Indian Prime Minister calls for “free, fair and credible” elections in the Maldives

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has highlighted “free, fair and credible” elections as the “best course” for overcoming political uncertainty in the Maldives.

In a statement, Singh – referring to last year’s controversial transfer of power –  noted that “there have been unfortunate problems in the Maldives after the February 2012 event.”

“We believe that the best course is to have elections to the office of the president, which are due in September, 2013,” Singh said.

“There should be free and fair elections, with an inclusive process, with all people participating in the process of electing the new President. I sincerely hope that the government and people of Maldives will overcome this atmosphere of crisis and uncertainty,” he said.

Singh’s comments follow the arrest last week of former President Mohamed Nasheed by masked police, acting on a court order issued by the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.

Nasheed is being charged over detaining Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed, charges his party contend are a politically-motivated effort to prevent him contesting the 2013 presidential elections. Nasheed evaded an earlier court summons by seeking refuge inside the Indian High Commission for 10 days.

The Hulhumale’ court was created by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), which also appointed the three-member panel of judges overhearing the Nasheed trial. The JSC’s members include several of Nasheed’s direct political opponents, including rival presidential candidate and resort tycoon, Jumhoree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim.

JSC member Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman this week spoke out against the judicial watchdog, revealing that they had openly discussed in meetings their intent to ensure the elimination of the Maldivian Democratic Party and presidential candidate Nasheed from the upcoming elections.

Sheikh Rahman alleged that Chair of the Commission, Supreme Court Judge Adam Mohamed, had abused his post and powers as the chair to try and eliminate Nasheed from contesting the elections, and alleged that Adam Mohamed had “used the commission as a political tool”.

“The politics of the majority control the commission, hence the rule of law, due process and due diligence do not exist in the JSC,” Sheikh Rahman stated. “The commission has no amount of respect for constitutional principles.”

Nasheed was released from custody after the judges panel conceded to a four week delay before the next hearing. Nasheed’s legal team had requested the trial be delayed until after the September 2013 elections, a prospect to which the state prosecution said it had no objection, however the judges would only concede to a month’s delay.

The UK reacted to Nasheed’s release from police custody following the hearing, urging “all parties to remain calm and to act responsibly.”

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Alistair Burt called for a “fair and transparent trial”.

“Unless the chosen candidates of all parties are permitted to participate in the Presidential election scheduled for 7 September, the credibility of the outcome will be irreparably damaged,” Burt warned.

“We urge all involved to work together to find a solution which would allow for genuinely free, fair and inclusive elections and ensure all are able to campaign without hindrance,” he stated.

The UK Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission (CHRC) meanwhile expressed “grave concern” over Nasheed’s arrest, echoing the former President’s concerns that “court proceedings against him were without any legal basis and were aimed at barring him from running in the presidential elections that have been scheduled for September this year.”

“Concerns have been raised by a range of organisations about whether Nasheed can expect a fair trial, with his supporters asserting that the whole process is politically motivated. The court that he will face has been specially constituted for the purpose, implying strong political interference. Human rights organisations across the world see this as another instance of selective justice being carried out by the current Maldivian administration,” the Commission stated.

Chair of the CHRC, MP Robert Buckland, said that the commission was “ deeply concerned about the safety of former President Nasheed, and urges the Maldivian authorities to postpone legal proceedings against him and to allow free and fair elections to take place.”

“Such instances of selective justice are just one of a number of serious breaches of human rights in the country. The Commission has previously heard evidence from a number of experts who share concerns about this action being politically motivated,” the CHRC stated.

“It is vitally important that all candidates of political parties are able to participate in the upcoming elections if the Maldives wants the international community to see it as a free, fair and inclusive election. Targeting of MDP members and their families will seriously undermine their ability to fight the upcoming elections on an equal footing and the CHRC will put pressure on the government to call for the release of falsely accused MDP supporters,” the CHRC stated.

Despite now widespread international criticism of the politicisation of the JSC, and calls from Home Minister Mohamed Jameel that the case against Nasheed be concluded “before the approaching presidential elections, in the interests of the nation and to maintain peace in it”, President Mohamed Waheed has persistently denied government interference in the judicial process.

“My government has upheld the rule of law and respected all independent institutions. I am pleased to note that unlike in the past, within the last year, the President has not interfered in the work of the judiciary, the police, or the independent commissions,” Waheed said, in a recent statement.

“Upholding the rule of law means nobody is above the law. I would like to assure the people of Maldives that the law and order will be maintained.”


12 thoughts on “Indian Prime Minister calls for “free, fair and credible” elections in the Maldives”

  1. If the standard of 'free, fair and credible' that Mr. Singh is referring to is the usual Indian election standard, would this statement help MDP or hinder MDP?

  2. I call upon India to have the :"free and fair election" first before asking other nations to have fair and free election.

  3. He world is watching us now, we have to have free and fair and inclusive elections.

  4. Well, who carries the moral high ground here? Singh or Waheed? Singh is an elected Prime Minister. Waheed plotted a coup against his boss whilst sitting across the hall from him and now sits in the vacated chair.

    What's certain is that Waheed will never ever get an elected seat of any sort in the Maldives.

  5. Mr. JJ. Don't you think calling the JSC the judicial 'watchdog' is improper and unislamic. JSC is not a 'dog' by any means. It may be your good queens English but dogs are filthy animals.

  6. Maldives is a premature PYGMY democracy compared to India. I do not think that elections 2013 can be free and fair.

  7. India has a top class Judiciary.

    Its Election Commission is also first class.

    There has never been a military coup, or even a threat of it, in India.

    Some of India's educational institutions are already world class.

    India is a World Power, or at least a Regional Power-in-waiting.

    India has saved Maldives more than once.

    It will do so again.

  8. How can there be a fair and free election in this country when the administration is hell bent on eliminating the candidate of the party that has the maximum number of registered voters!

    There can be nothing gained when brute force and the baton is used as media for dialogue in place of the tongue for constructive dialogue through which only an amicable solution can be reached!

    Instead what we see daily is, that MDP members are threatened, targeted, taken into custody and beaten to pulp!

  9. Mr. Michael Fu*mee

    Yes, India has a top class Judiciary and judges like CONI panel judge Mr. Selvam.

    Now please stick to your own words for once.

  10. he he he night watcher (new title from an opposition leader to this yes madam,poodle ,puppet) is calling for free..fair..and credible election ?????

    The current finance minister of India one CHIDAMBARAM during last general election was lost after counting and this was officialy announced on radio but after few hours he won is this ?
    So this poodle Singh preach this to others ?

    His party is planning to give free mobile phones (not accomodation or toilet or job) in 2014 election to organise fair

    The real winner had filed a case against this election fraud but still the case is going on and this guy is enjyoing minister post probably court will decide after next election .

    The same CHIDAMBARAM had dissolved his own political party and went and fall on the feet of this ex-baby sitter Italian woman simply just for a minister post.

    About Indian judiciary ...hundreds of judges are being acccused for corruption..and still enjoying their post.

    The former governer of Andhra Pradesh one Tiwari (a congress wallah) had brought prostitutes at government expense at his residence as house help to service him and one guy accused him as his own father and won after DNA test...this is India .

    In this land of illiterate and poverty India development and super power only in paper.It is possible to do anything in poverty India from Delhi to remote village with few hundred rupees.

    Shame during Taj hotel attack few years ago this cardboard Indian commandors took 72 hours to clear this hotel and the world was watching this and laugh.In many countries the same incident was brought under control within hours.

  11. Indian PM singh never elected by people in an election...he enterd to the parliment on nomination list providing fake Arunachal Pradesh ID (HE IS FROM PUNJAB)and selected by ex-Italina baby sitter as her poodle to say yes madam.

    This Night Watcher has no right to talk about free ,fair and credible election.


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