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Situation in Maldives far worse than imagined: SADF report

ANI | Updated: Sep 19, 2018 22:46 IST

Male [Maldives], Sep 19 (ANI): A South Asian Democracy Forum (SADF) report containing observations of three Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), accompanied by two officials of the European Economic and Social Committee, confirmed that the situation in the Maldives is far worse than imagined, read an article called 'Trampling Democracy: The dream of free and fair elections in Maldives' published in EP Today, authored by Innocenzo Leontini.
Leontini, who is a member of the European Parliament, revealed that the team of officials interacted with human rights activists, media personnel, lawyers and opposition leaders during their visit to the island nation in August.
However, the objective of the unofficial visit was to verify the claims made by the Maldivian Joint Opposition about the situation on the ground. They decided to travel in their private capacity, in order to avoid being identified and deported by immigration authorities in Male, and in the interest of the safety of those that they would be meeting.
In the article, Leontini said that the situation in the South Asian archipelago is deteriorating.
"The Maldivian government and its diplomatic corps in Brussels initiated a campaign maligning this group, accusing them of misleading the EU and making false claims of being members of an official EU delegation," Leontini wrote while talking about MEPs being accused of visa rule violation.
Leontini further wrote that this instance reflected the "nature and scope of the authoritarian regime of President Yameen, in which freedom of speech has been one of the many casualties."
In the article, Leontini asserted that given the present situation in the Maldives, it is highly unlikely that free and fair elections would be conducted there.
"It is thus the need of the hour for the European Union to seriously consider all options available to it, including the imposition of sanctions on Yameen and his coterie of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to him," he wrote.
The ongoing political crisis in the Maldives is the result of the State of Emergency imposed by the Abdulla Yameen-led government in February, which was followed by armed troops storming the country's Supreme Court and arresting the serving Chief Justice, along with a former President.
Although the Emergency was lifted, the government continued suppressing voices of the opposition, media, and the general public, wrote Leontini in the piece.
The Presidential polls are scheduled to be held on September 23. (ANI)