High level of fear and intimidation prevails in Maldives, says Commonwealth Ministerial Report

| Updated: Aug 23, 2017 11:20 IST

London [UK], Sept.28 (ANI): A high level of fear and political intimidation prevails in The Maldives according to a briefing note submitted recently to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG). The island nation is cautioned that if it continues on this path of coercion of opposition and intimidation there could be international consequences. Prepared by the Commonwealth Secretary General's special envoy to The Maldives and former chief justice of Kenya, Dr. Willy Mutunga, after undertaking two visits to the island nation between July and September (July 31 to August 5 and September 3 to September 9), and based on interactions with people at various levels, the briefing note of 14 points paints an abysmal and alarming picture of the situation that exists in The Maldives, especially in capital Male, confirming that there is a breakdown of the political and constitutional administration, and a complete absence of acceptable standards of law and order. Dr. Mutunga says in his report, "The curtailment of fundamental freedoms of expression and assembly has created an environment of fear and intimidation. The long-term detention of political leaders has eroded the government and the judiciary's legitimacy. The inability of political leaders to participate in political life could prevent a credible presidential election in 2018." Dr. Mutunga further goes on to say that The Maldives is in desperate need of technical assistance, but cautions that this assistance " should not be a substitute for the crucial actions that are needed to be taken at the political level by the country's politicians who have influence and access to the machinery of the state." In his briefing note to the CMAG, the envoy states, "There is a dire need for political consensus in the long term, while in the short term, the government must demonstrate both the will and the leadership to help the nation emerge from severe democratic deficit." Maintaining that there are clear signs of deterioration in some areas, Dr. Mutunga has identified at least five to six key areas of concern for the CMAG to act upon, and recommended that the Commonwealth "consider a full range of options" to bring the required political pressure on the Government of The Maldives to act positively in the political space. Dr. Mutunga said that the conclusions arrived at in the briefing note to the CMAG are based on his interactions with key stakeholders including President Abdulla Yameen and Chief Justice Uz Abdullah Saeed, and opposition leaders Sheikh Imran Abdulla (under house arrest); Colonel Nazeem (under house arrest) and ousted Member of Parliament Ahmed Mahloof (in prison), besides civil society representatives. He said that he also met former Maldivian president Mohammad Nasheed; regional and international partners of the country in Colombo, New Delhi and London, and they have also confirmed his view that, "political dialogue has no prospect of advancing in the current environment in The Maldives, though it is badly needed." He said that he has been made aware of the rising calls for the ouster of President Yameen, and warned that the chances of unrest are very high. In his briefing note, Dr. Mutunga said that the judiciary in The Maldives is "deeply politicized and compromised, and willing to disregard the principles of natural justice." He concludes by saying that there is an urgent need for broad-ranging consultation and initiation of a dialogue process to discuss what he called "root and branch judicial reform" in The Maldives, as in his view, the state has captured institutions meant to be independent.(ANI)