UK MPs highlight “deteriorating situation” in the Maldives

An early day motion has been tabled in the UK Parliament calling upon the House of Commons to support the UN secretary general’s call for a “credible and peaceful second round of voting” in the Maldives.

The motion, sponsored by MP Grahame Morris, also called upon members of the House of Commons to declare that it “condemns those who are seeking to prevent President Mohamed Nasheed from participating in any future elections in the Maldives; further condemns the perpetrators of the arson attack that destroyed the opposition-supporting Raaje TV station in Male’; and demands that the authorities take all necessary steps to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Attempts to disqualify Nasheed’s candidacy – reportedly now backed by the religious Adhaalath Party – have already been criticised by incumbent President Dr Mohamed Waheed.

Rarely debated on the floor of the house, early day motions are used as a way to publicise topics of interest to certain MPs, with fellow members invited to add their name to the motion.

Robert Buckland MP this week also asked the leader of the house if time could be made available in the commons’ schedule for discussion of the current political crisis in the Maldives.

“May we find time for an urgent debate on the deteriorating situation in the Maldives, where the first round of a presidential election has been annulled and it is feared the 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?”

Leader of the House Andrew Lansley assured Buckland that he would request the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to brief the house on the current situation during the next oral question session, if not earlier – the next FCO question time is scheduled for October 29.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to annul the first round of voting earlier this week, UK Foreign Minister William Hague called upon the government of the Maldives to respect the democratic process, and to create conditions for a free and fair poll.

“It is imperative that there are no further delays and the elections be free, fair and inclusive, and that international observers are invited,” said Hague.

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.

Voting for the rescheduled first round will begin at 7:30am on Saturday, October 19 and polls will be closed at 4:00pm, the Elections Commission announced at a press conference last night.