The Maldivian government draws “happiness and satisfaction” from Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election, President Abdulla Yameen has said, expressing hope that the new administration will pursue a non-intervention foreign policy.
Speaking at a function held Wednesday afternoon to welcome new members to the ruling party, Yameen lauded Trump’s stance that the US “cannot be the policeman of the world”.
“Every country should be a state with full sovereign power and independence. Someone else shouldn’t spread around the world to police everything we do,” he said.
“So if the president that has been elected now acts in accordance with this policy, the world will become much more peaceful than at present. Otherwise what we have seen so far is that some powerful imperialist has some kind of interest in anything that happens anywhere in the world. But if such powerful imperialists stop policing the world, the people of the world can live the way they want.”
Besieged by multiple political crises and criticism of his administration’s human rights record, Yameen has previously lashed out at alleged interference by Western powers in Maldivian domestic affairs.
“Big countries have the full power to make decisions about their affairs. But it is not accepted for small countries to have that power to make their decisions,” Yameen went on to say at yesterday’s event.
“So there are two classes of citizens in the world. But when there is one class of citizens in the world and when it is believed that all of us speak the same diplomatic language or lingo, the problems of the world will be solved.”
The US, along with the UN, the UK, and international human rights organisations, has been critical of Yameen’s administration following the widely condemned imprisonment of opposition leaders last year.
Athul Keshap, the US ambassador to the Maldives, frequently expresses solidarity with Maldivians who value democracy, most recently in response to a split within the ruling party.
In March, Nisha Biswal, US assistant secretary of state for south and central Asia, warned that the Maldives is on a “largely negative trajectory” as the political crisis sparked by the jailing of Yameen’s rivals has led to “a steady weakening of its fragile democracy and an erosion of the rule of law.”
The jailing of former President Mohamed Nasheed and other high-profile politicians prompted fears of an “authoritarian reversal.”
In June, the government meanwhile enlisted a prestigious American international law firm to provide “counsel on all public policy issues related to the United States Congress and the Administration.”
The hiring of Akin Gump came after the US Senate in April unanimously adopted a bipartisan resolution calling on the Maldivian government to redress the “injustice” of Nasheed’s imprisonment.
The resolution followed a campaign by Nasheed’s pro bono heavyweight lawyers, Jared Genser and Amal Clooney, to lobby top US lawmakers for targeted sanctions against Maldivian government officials.
Genser’s NGO Freedom Now, a renowned Washington-based campaign group for political prisoners, also submitted a report to White House officials urging President Barack Obama to issue an executive order for imposing financial sanctions.
In May last year, US Secretary of State John Kerry had called the opposition leader’s 13-year jail sentence on a terrorism charge “an injustice that needs to be addressed soon.”
A month later, Senators John McCain and Jack Reed urged the US government to press for Nasheed’s release. In August, four members of the US Congress also wrote a letter to Yameen expressing concern over Nasheed’s imprisonment and the deterioration of democracy in the Maldives.