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US dubious over possibility of free and fair elections in Maldives

Nafaahath Ibrahim
10 May 2018, MVT 17:17
US Ambassador to Maldives, Atul Keshap, speaks at opening of American Centre. PHOTO/MIHAARU
Nafaahath Ibrahim
10 May 2018, MVT 17:17

The US Ambassador for the Maldives, Atul Keshap, questioned the possibility of the island nation having a free and fair election this year under the current circumstances.

The Elections Commission has opened candidacy applications for the Presidential Elections slated to be held this September.

Keshap said in a tweet, "Now jailed in #Maldives for asserting their Constitutional rights are one former President (and one more in exile), a Supreme Court chief justice, a Vice President, several elected Members of Parliament, & a party leader. How will free&fair elections happen under such conditions?"

The Elections Commission has been facing harsh criticism, and international bodies have called on the Maldives to establish an independent commission prior to the elections.

While the US is also expressing concern over the situation in the Maldives, the European Union (EU) also recently urged the government to clear all obstructions hindering free and fair elections, and to establish an impartial electoral system.

After the EU's statements, the opposition had suggested including members from political parties in the EC. The state countered these suggestions, saying that if any changes are to be brought to the EC, the opposition must come to the discussion table first to hold all-party talks - an invitation all opposition parties have continuously rejected over the government's refusal to accept their prior conditions.

The opposition coalition continues to claim that the EC was heavily influenced by the government - an accusation that the state denies.

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