The Maldives is at a critical juncture in its democratic transition ahead of the elections in September, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco has said at the conclusion of his three day visit to the country.
Calling for widespread political backing for “free, fair and non-violent elections”, Fernandez-Taranco “stressed that while respecting the Constitution, the credibility of the electoral process and acceptability of the results depends on whether all candidates wishing to participate in the the presidential elections are able to do so.”
He also recommended immediate investigation of allegations of police brutality and acts of intimidation holding the perpetrators to account, and called for the immediate strengthening of the Maldives Police Service, Police Integrity Commission, Judiciary, Judicial Services Commission, People’s Majlis, and Human Rights Commission.
In his statement, Fernandez-Taranco specifically referred to the initial findings of UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, who in February this year criticised the appointment of judges presiding over the case against former President Mohamed Nasheed, for his controversial arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in 2011.
“Being totally technical, it seems to me that the set-up, the appointment of judges to the case, has been set up in an arbitrary manner outside the parameters laid out in the laws,” Knaul said at the time.
Fernandez-Taranco called on the Maldives’ national and international partners “to contribute to the reform of the justice sector and the independence of the judiciary”, and emphasised “the importance of avoiding the instrumentalisation of judicial proceedings.”
Meanwhile, according to a statement from the President’s Office, Fernandez-Taranco “applauded President Waheed for his leadership techniques in restoring peace and stability following the change of power in February 2012.”
“Mr Taranco noted the tremendous strides made by the country towards embracing and institutionalisation of multi-party democratic governance,” the President’s Office stated.
“President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik assured the United Nations of the government’s commitment, to create a stable and transparent environment conducive to dialogue and free and fair elections and to strengthen democratic reform and institutions in the Maldives,” the statement added.