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Maldives slipping into ‘autocratic rule’

The Maldives government is cracking down on the media, civil society and the opposition.



The Maldives is slipping rapidly into autocratic rule and President Abdulla Yameen’s government is running towards widening repression, Human Rights Watch said Friday.

Yameen is under fire for a crackdown on civil society, the media and opposition that has intensified in the past few months.

The criminal court’s recent decision to imprison his half-brother and former president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, along with two top judges has triggered a fresh round of condemnation from the international community.

HRW Asia director Brad Adams called the conviction of the three high-profile figures a “blatant move” to strengthen Yameen’s grip on power ahead of this year’s presidential election.

“Unnoticed by much of the world, the sundrenched holiday paradise of the Maldives is slipping rapidly into autocratic rule,” he said.

India, the UK and the US criticised the trial, which went ahead without defence witnesses and despite a boycott from defence lawyers about the way hearings were being conducted.

Adams rejected the foreign ministry’s assertion that there was nothing wrong with how the three men had been tried, and that everything had been done according to the law.

“Not really,” he said. “Yameen’s government is running fast in the opposite direction, toward one party rule and widening repression.”

Polls are scheduled for September 23, but opposition leaders are either in exile or behind bars and the head of the Maldives’ electoral body is a Yameen loyalist.

Photo: Auf Majeed