The European Union has said it is prepared to consider “appropriate measures” should Saturday’s run-off election be subverted, and the country fall into authoritarianism.
“The EU underlines that neither continuing uncertainty nor a drift towards autocratic rule would be acceptable to the EU and that it is therefore ready to consider appropriate measures should the poll on 16 November not bring the electoral process to a successful conclusion,” declared EU High Representative Catherine Ashton.
“The EU notes that, on 9 November, Maldivians voted in high numbers in the repeated first round of Presidential elections, reflecting their desire to exercise their democratic rights and their trust in the Elections Commission. As in September, the first round was conducted in a professional and impartial way,” Ashton stated.
“The EU notes that a second round is now scheduled for Saturday 16 November, but in circumstances not foreseen in the Constitution. The EU considers that any attempt to further delay or otherwise influence the outcome of the elections could only be intended to prevent the people of the Maldives from exercising their democratic right to choose their next president,” she declared.
The statement did not outline what such “appropriate measures” might entail.
The EU last week was reported to have declined to extend the duty-free status of imported fish from the Maldives, following the country’s failure to comply with international conventions concerning freedom of religion and treatment on women. However Minivan News understands that the timing was coincidental.
“It is true that the Maldives applied to be granted the status of beneficiary of the EU preferential trade arrangements for sustainable development and good governance (GSP+). However, the application is still under review by the EU with a decision to be expected by the end of 2013. It is premature to anticipate on whether the Maldives will receive the GSP+ status or not,” EU trade spokesman John Clancy told Minivan News.
The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) has meanwhile recommended the international community impose travel and other restrictions against President Mohamed Waheed, Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz and Supreme Court Justices Ahmed Abdulla Didi, Abdulla Saeed, Adam Mohamed Abdulla and Ali Hameed Mohamed.
“The time has come to ensure that all those who subvert democracy and the rule of law are held accountable by denying visas as well as any association including employment opportunities by the United Nations and other inter‐governmental organisations,” stated the regional NGO, which has special consultative status with the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), the international body’s human rights and democracy arm, has meanwhile placed the Maldives on its agenda.
President Mohamed Waheed, who departs tonight on an official trip after drawing MVR 525,000 (US$34,000) from the state treasury two days before the election, said he was “unconcerned”.
“Let CMAG decide whatever they will,” Waheed said.
The EU has long been the Maldives’ most lucrative tourism market in terms of bed nights and expenditure. Arrivals from China have eclipsed those of any one European country, however countries such as the UK, France, Germany and Italy remain core markets due to longer average stays and higher expenditure than many Chinese guests.