UK Foreign Office concerned over damage to Maldives’ reputation and economy

Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Hugo Swire has expressed concern that the Maldives international reputation and its economy could be damaged, in spite of the efforts of the country’s elections commission.

Members of the UK Parliament again called for a House of Commons debate on the current situation in the Maldives last week, with Conservative member John Glen taking aim at the administration of President Dr Mohamed Waheed.

“Last Saturday, presidential elections were once again postponed in the Maldives when President Waheed and his puppet interim Government of the previous elected President refused to step aside,” asked Salisbury MP Glen.

“Will the Deputy Leader of the House make time for a debate so that MPs on both sides of the House can voice their support for free and fair elections in that country?”

Glen’s request for a full debate on the delayed elections follow a similar request made by fellow-Conservative Robert Buckland the week before, who expressed his “concern that authorities are trying to obstruct the return to power of President Nasheed, who was ousted in a coup last year and who clearly won an election that was described by international observers as free and fair?”

Responding to the last week’s request, Deputy Leader of the House Tom Brake agreed that it was important for candidates to engage in a process that would ensure fair elections and a smooth transition of power.

“It is important that elections take place to a timing specified by the Maldives elections commission and in accordance with the Maldives constitution,” said Brake.

The third attempt to complete the presidential election has been scheduled for November 9, with the date for a potential second round on the 16. The constitutionally designated presidential term is set to expire on the 11th – a motion detailing transitional arrangements for the Majlis speaker to take the interim presidency were passed today (October 27).

Brake referred to the prior statement made by the UK’s Foreign Secretary William Hague who announced that he was “deeply dismayed” by the cancellation of the October 19 poll.

The Deputy Leader also pointed out that members would have the opportunity to question the Foreign Minister further during question time on Tuesday (October 29).

Meanwhile, Conservative MP Karen Lumley wrote to FCO minister Swire this week to ask him for his assessment on the Maldives

The secretary of state acknowledged that there was doubt as to whether the electoral process would be resumed.

“We are concerned that further delays could result in damage to Maldives international reputation and economy, despite the best efforts of the Maldives Elections Commission to get the process back on track,” said Swire.

“It is important that the Elections Commission, as an independent body, are given the space needed to make preparations for elections,” he continued, adding that he would be keeping a close eye on developments.

An early day motion introduced in the House of Commons earlier this month requested MPs to support calls for a free and “credible” vote, as well as condemning attempts to bar Maldivian Democratic Party candidate Mohamed Nasheed from competing in future elections.

A case filed in the Supreme Court to bar Nasheed’s candidacy has yet to be withdrawn, despite criticism from both sides of the political divide.

The United Kingdom remains one of the Maldives tourism industry’s biggest markets, although recent arrival figures show negative growth of a fall of  -6.4%  in UK arrivals this year when compared with 2012.

The FCO updated its travel advisory for the Maldives after growing unrest following the delaying of polls.

The guidance urged visitors to keep away from demonstrations: “There is no indication at present that any political unrest will affect tourist resorts or airports, but if you have any concerns you should check with your hotel or tour operator,” the statement read.

The United Kingdom remains one of the Maldives tourism industry’s biggest markets, although recent arrival figures show negative growth of a fall of  -6.4%  in UK arrivals this year when compared with 2012.


13 thoughts on “UK Foreign Office concerned over damage to Maldives’ reputation and economy”

  1. (1) The Maldives is seeing a similar fate to that of Madagascar where a military dictatorship failed 3 times to allow the people to vote for their choice of leader.

    (2) We have an illegitimate regime that is effectively a front for PPM and they have now on two occasions denied the right for people to chose their leader. The third one is highly likely to be denied despite the best efforts of the Elections Commission.

    (3) Just like Madagascar, it's the international community that can tighten the screws on the regime and force them to give power back to the people.

    (4) Starting immediately, punitive measures should be taken. These can include travel restrictions on regime officials and freezing their offshore accounts.

    (5) Unless talk is followed by action, this regime and its backers will not give up their grip.

  2. Qasim will not be concerned if the UK tourist numbers drop by 100% there are more than enough Chinese tourists to replace them.

    The Chinese will put pressure on Waheed (Gay Oom) to make sure NONE of their tourists are inconvenienced.

    The UK have no credible influence whatsoever.

  3. The economy is irrelevant to our existence.

    We only care about the hereafter, thanks.

  4. Just mind your own business. Did not our president tell that we are an educated, capable wealthy people who can solve our problems . Please keep your paws off us otherwise we shall make u eat humble pie like we made India which have made them quite.

  5. I am also concerned about the reputation of Maldives abroad being seriously damaged if the present situation continues in the Maldives.

    I have followed the politics of Sri Lanka, India, Britain and Finland for a long term. Supreme Court intervening in the electoral process is unheard of in these countries.

    According to reports, the Supreme Court and the Police and the Army are now ruling Maldives. This is completely unacceptable.

    There is now a real threat of assassination of MDP presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed.

    The three dictators who ruled the country before the dawn of democracy in 2008 must bear a large degree of blame for the current situation. The third, and last and the most influential of the three dictators is still alive and active in Maldivian politics.

    Under the three dictators, no dissent was allowed, and no civil society grew. The judiciary and the armed forces ruled the country which was under a civilian dictator.

    Especially during the time of Gayoom, Islam was much in use to dupe and subjugate the people.

    The present situation is, to me at least, not a surprise. But it is regretable.

  6. Proof that if the corrupt UNELECTED current regime and old dictatorship is being very closely watched and now the whole world knows that Feb 2012 was a coup!

  7. UK F/office if concerned about damage to Maldives tourism?

    Wasn't it the UK based FOM that is behind the damage. If UK is genuinely concerned, why not ban FOM, or at least caution them. But that will not be done.

    So we have this well known British approach. Totally insincere.

  8. @Michael Fahmy on Sun, 27th Oct 2013 10:45 PM

    "Especially during the time of Gayoom, Islam was much in use to dupe and subjugate the people."

    (1) That's a very accurate description of Gay's relationship with Islam. He learnt this well from the iron fisted dictators of the Middle East, like Saddam, Gaddafi, Mubarak etc.

    (2) Gasim might not be concerned by a drop in just UK tourists. But it won't be just UK tourists who will be watching. All westerners will be watching this carefully. Remember those who travel are very well heeled people who DO know about what's going on in the world. Chinese tourists alone won't keep Gasim afloat, never mind the whole Maldivian tourism industry!

    (3) Someone above said, we are keeping India quiet. I'd say India has been very patient and very kind to us so far. This country imports 100% of all that it needs. The slightest disturbance to that will lead to riots on the streets! A fully fed healthy man or woman might not care much about the finer points of democracy.

    However, a hungry or not-so-well individual will certainly care about his own welfare and won't like it one bit when his or her life is threatened. Hope individuals making remarks about India and others understand what this means. Maldives is in no position to play macho politics with the international community!

  9. Yes it’s an alarming situation and well commented by (Mr.Fahmy) the last comment, and obviously better and more intelligent observed from the outside then some of the local comments that make you think the place has a lot of un illiterate’s ore very uninformed population

  10. Does UK minister admitted that Nasheed was only the leader who was very unislamic and was openly challenged the Islam ?

    was not Uk minister told that they should do everything to reinstate Nasheed to achieve thier goals ?

    What is all these about ?

    We do not need again british to tell us what to do and we have the capacity to manage and elect our own president ?

    We do not need puppet to be installed by UK and we will elect a President who has the capacity to rule this country and who had the courage to say no UK , if it comes to that extend.

    We need a leader who loves Islam and not a guy like Nasheed who openly criticize Islam .

  11. @hero
    Colonial times is over years ago, I presume it’s not observed in some isolated areas, I also notice a strong sense inferiority complex
    They only want to see a fair election, and that the majority of the Maldivian people get their right whoever wins the majority

  12. What reputation are we talking about here?.....and as for the 'economy' the less said they better.


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