IPU and UK foreign office add to growing criticism of regime

Criticism of the current regime continues, with both the UK Foreign Foreign Minister and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) expressing concern.

“It is clear that some political actors are not working in the interests of the Maldivian people,” said UK Foreign Minister William Hague.

Meanwhile, head of the recently concluded IPU delegation to the Maldives urged all sides to end the political impasse.

“There can be no place for a winner-takes-all mentality in the Maldives. The political polarization in the country has left the Maldives hamstrung, on the verge of bankruptcy and facing serious social problems,” said Paul East.

“The Maldives cannot afford to continue as it has been if there is a genuine desire and commitment to building a peaceful and democratic society,” he continued.

An urgent visit of the IPU followed a series of opposition MPs being prosecuted through the courts. The Supreme Court has removed two MPs from the Majlis, whilst a third MP is seeking refuge from arrest in parliamentary premises – and was later sentenced in absentia to six months for failure to attend court hearings.

Following its mission to the country, an IPU press release has called for “calm and a serious national commitment to healing the political divide in a heavily polarized Maldives.”

Whilst welcoming the successful completion of the presidential election first round on November 9, the IPU has expressed concern regarding the Supreme Court’s “undermining of the parliamentary mandate”.

“This includes over-turning a parliamentary resolution on an interim head of state when President Waheed’s term expired on 10th November,” read the statement.

“Instead, the incumbent was kept in the post, contrary to the Constitution and in contradiction of President Waheed’s repeated and public statements that he would not continue as president beyond his exact term in office.”

The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) earlier this week called for travel bans to be imposed upon those it deemed as responsible for a “judicial coup d’état” – including President Waheed in its list.

The IPU also expressed concerns that the interference in presidential elections could have further detrimental impacts on both future local and parliamentary elections.

Dismayed and disappointed

The UK Foreign Minister described himself as being “deeply dismayed” and “disappointed” at the decision to delay the presidential run-off and the subsequent decision of President Waheed to remain in office.

“Since the initial vote, now over two months ago, the democratic process has continually been subject to unreasonable demands and delays. Such delays only serve to increase the strain on democracy, as well as Maldives’ international reputation and already fragile economy.”

Hague went onto say that he would expect the interim arrangements to remain in place only until the completion of the second round of elections – re-scheduled for this coming Saturday (October 16).

He also noted that he would not expect the government to commit to any policy initiatives in the meantime.

“The Maldivian people must have the right to vote for their representative, whether or not the result of that vote is agreeable to losing candidates.”

“We urge all candidates to uphold the interests of the people and the country which they strive to represent and to act responsibly in helping to create conditions which are conducive to elections.”

Hague concluded by calling for the Elections Commissions guidelines to be followed, and urging calm in the run up to the elections.

After violent protests immediately following President Waheed’s decision to stay in office, Male’ has not seen further unrest this week.

The Foreign Minister has received a written question from UK MP Karen Lumley regarding his opinion on Waheed’s attendance at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo this week.

Lumley is currently chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Maldives.