The halt on ex-Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed’s controversial trial has raised hopes of more credible presidential polls in the country, where electioneering has picked up pace with the nomination of candidates for the elections including through primaries, writes Sameer Arshad for the Times of India.
The Maldivian High Court halted the case on April 1 days after the European Union said the polls would not be credible without Nasheed, whose supporters describe the trial for ordering a judge’s detention during his tenure as motivated to prevent him from contesting. The UN echoed countries like India and the US as it urged all sides to work for ensuring “fair, peaceful and inclusive elections’’ last month.
Yet Nasheed’s participation is not completely guaranteed. His supporters fear the Supreme Court may overrule the order suspending the trial till the legality of the judges hearing his case in a lower court is decided. They point out rampant political control over Maldivian judiciary to underline their fears and warn of a violent backlash if they come true.
Nasheed’s supporters were somewhat vindicated as UN Special Rapporteur Gabriela Knaul called for constitutional reforms to ensure judicial independence in the Indian Ocean archipelago, while saying judges and lawyers “were not sufficiently independent from external pressures and interferences” in February.
Even Nasheed appears to be unsure of his participation, saying it does not suit the interests of the current dispensation, which stands little chance in retaining its hold following the elections in his presence. He too has warned of violence in case he is prevented from participating in the polls.