The Foreign Ministry has slammed an EU statement alerting the government that it would be “difficult” to consider the Maldives’ upcoming presidential elections credible unless former President Mohamed Nasheed is allowed to contest.
“The government of the Maldives considers the ‘Declaration’ issued on the Maldives by the European Union’s High Representative, Catherine Ashton, on 14 March 2013, as unfortunate and unacceptable,” read the Ministry’s statement.
“The government is committed to ensuring that the Presidential elections will be fair and inclusive of all qualified parties and individuals wishing to participate,” it added.
Nasheed is currently being tried in the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court over his detention of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed.
His Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) maintain that the charges are a politically-motivated attempt to prevent Nasheed from contesting elections in September, and have condemned the former President’s repeated arrest on the court’s order by squads of masked special operations police.
A number of international institutions including the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Judiciary, Gabriela Knaul, and the UK’s Bar Human Rights Commission, have recently expressed concern about the politicisation of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), the legitimacy of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court it created, and its appointment of the three member panel of judges overhearing the Nasheed trial.
The European Union said it “reiterates its view that the participation of the preferred candidates from all political formations in the Maldives is essential to ensuring the success of the forthcoming elections; it would be difficult to consider them credible and inclusive if Mr Nasheed and his party were to be prevented from standing or campaigning.”
“The EU takes note of the acceptance by the prosecution of a defence request to defer the trial until after the upcoming presidential elections in September and hopes that this would offer the means to ensure that ex-President Nasheed is able to participate in the electoral campaign, under the same conditions as other candidates,” stated EU High Representative Catherine Ashton.
In response, the government said that “criminal charges filed against former President Mr. Mohamed Nasheed by the independent Prosecutor General concerns the arrest and detention of a sitting judge of a superior court in the Maldives in January 2012. President Nasheed disregarded over a dozen court orders from the Civil Court, Criminal Court, High Court and the Supreme Court to produce the Judge before the court. President Nasheed also dismissed calls by the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, Prosecutor General, and several international organisations, including the EU, to release the judge.”
“The Court’s decision earlier this month to postpone Mr. Nasheed’s trial clearly shows that the courts in the Maldives are in fact able to make credible decisions in a politically divisive environment and that they are neither unfairly biased against Mr. Nasheed nor conspiring against him. The decision also goes on to highlight that the case against the former President is not politically motivated and that in effect, Mr. Nasheed does accept that there is a genuine case against him. The Government has always maintained that it should be given the necessary space to manage and develop an authentic democratic culture in the Maldives without external interference,” the Ministry stated.
“It is therefore regrettable that a responsible international organisation, such as the EU, chose to state in public that the forthcoming presidential elections would not be credible unless a particular person is allowed to contest in the elections. It is important to note that elections in the Maldives are held in accordance with the Constitution and the relevant laws of the Maldives. The government in the Maldives is elected by the people and for the people of the Maldives,” the statement concluded.