US threatens Maldives with sanctions if it fails to hold fair elections

Maldives has been in a political crisis since February when President Abdulla Yameen imposed a 45-day emergency, and forced the country’s top court to overturn an earlier order quashing the conviction of nine opposition leaders, including former president Mohamed Naheed.

world Updated: Sep 08, 2018 15:11 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Maldives,US Sanction,Maldives election
Maldives' main opposition leader and presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (C) and Maldives' self-imposed exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed (2nd R) attend a meeting at Mount Lavinia, a suburb of Colombo, on August 27, 2018. (AFP)

The US has threatened sanctions against key officials of the Maldives if it fails to hold free and fair elections that are due on September 23, saying it was concerned about “democratic backsliding” in the country.

“Absent Maldives’ return to a democratic path, the United States will consider appropriate measures against those individuals who undermine democracy, the rule of law, and a free and fair electoral process,” US state department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement on Thursday.

She said the restoration of democratic institutions and practices, including a free, fair, and inclusive election “is of critical importance”.

The European Union has already threatened sanctions against officials responsible for human rights violations and neglect of rule of law.

The tiny Indian Ocean nation has been in a political crisis since February when President Abdulla Yameen imposed a 45-day emergency, and forced the country’s top court to overturn an earlier order quashing the conviction of nine opposition leaders, including former president Mohamed Naheed.

Nauert called for the release of the “falsely accused political prisoners”, and honouring the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning their conviction.

The Maldives, she added, must put “an end to executive interference in the Parliament and judiciary; respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; and holding a free and fair election that reflects the will of the Maldivian people”.

India has watched developments in the Maldives with mounting concern as the current government there has sought to steer the country away from its traditionally warm relations with India and forge closer ties with China.

First Published: Sep 08, 2018 15:11 IST