MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar
MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar

Favourable atmosphere key to free, fair elections in Maldives: MEA

ANI | Updated: Jul 05, 2018 17:51 IST

New Delhi [India], Jul 5 (ANI): The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday reiterated that it is important to create a conducive atmosphere for holding free and fair elections in the Maldives.
Commenting on the political situation in the island country, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, "We've been closely watching the situation there. The announcement of the elections comes at a time, when democratic institutions, including the Majlis (parliament) and the judiciary, are not being allowed to function in a free and a transparent manner. This is a matter of concern for us."
He added that India has urged the Maldivian government to return to the path of democracy for ensuring credible restoration of the political process and the rule of law ahead of the elections.
Asked about India's decision to take back two helicopters, Raveesh replied, "We are engaged with the Maldivian government. However, as said earlier, these are operational matters related to the defence ministry."
Last month, former president of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed, who is currently in exile abandoned plans to contest the upcoming presidential election in September because of legal obstacles.
According to media reports, senior Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) member Ibrahim Mohamed Solih was named as the new presidential candidate of the party.
Meanwhile, incumbent President Abdulla Yameen is expected to win the September election unopposed, as all of his challengers are either in jail or in exile.
Nasheed is a popular leader in the Maldives, having been at the forefront of a pro-democracy campaign for over two decades. He was the first democratically-elected leader, but is disqualified from participation in the presidential election because of a 13-year prison sentence.
He has been convicted on widely criticised terrorism charges. The international community and his supporters believe that due process of law has not been followed to justify these alleged violations.
On a related note, in March, Yameen lifted a 45-day state of emergency he imposed on February 5 after the island nation's Supreme Court reversed criminal convictions against nine of his opponents.
India has previously expressed its concern over the political situation in the Maldives and has also called upon the Maldivian government to allow democratic institutions to work in a transparent manner. (ANI)