UK urges “free, fair and inclusive elections later this year”

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Minister for South Asia, Alistair Burt, has called on all parties in the Maldives “to work together to strengthen the country’s institutions and economy.”

Burt’s comments follow the Minister’s recent visit to the Maldives, during which he met with President Mohamed Waheed, Foreign Minister Dr Abdul Samad Abdulla, and politicial leaders including former President Mohamed Nasheed.

“Many changes have taken place in Maldives since my last visit in 2011 and the UK has been following developments with great interest and concern,” Burt said.

“It is now time for all parties in Maldives to focus on the future, rather than the past, and to work together to strengthen the country’s institutions and economy.

The UK remained keen to support Maldives in its democratic transition, Burt said.

“It is important that the historic gains made in the last few years are consolidated to ensure a truly democratic future. To this end, in my meeting with President Waheed on Saturday, I emphasised the importance of moving swiftly towards free, fair and inclusive elections later this year. I also stressed the importance of all parties being able to participate with the candidate of their choice. I was encouraged to learn that the date for these elections has now been confirmed for 7 September 2013,” he added.

Burt also urged the government and other parties to work towards institutional reform “and to fully investigate all allegations of police brutality, as recommended in the CoNI report.”