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European Parliamentarians express concern over credible, transparent polls in Maldives

ANI | Updated: Sep 22, 2018 12:25 IST

Brussels [Belgium], Sept 22 (ANI): Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from seven different parties have shown concern over the failure of President Abdulla Yameen's government in Maldives to engage with the Opposition leaders for credible, transparent and inclusive Presidential elections to be held on September 23.
In an undersigned letter to Federica Mogherini, high representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Vice President of the European Commission, the MEPs said: "To date, just days away from elections, it is clear that such a dialogue and framework has not materialised".
"The Election Commission remains deeply compromised, headed by a former senior official in President Yameen's political party, and staffed by many other PPM supporters. Furthermore, there have been a number of violent attacks on Opposition campaign offices, including an attempt to assault the MDP Presidential candidate, which the police have failed to investigate," they wrote in the letter.
The Members of European Parliament who have signed the letter include Maria Grapini, Wajid Khan, Eduard Kukan, Cristian Dan Preda, Branislav Skripek, Charles Tannock and Claudia Papardel.
On July 16, the European Council on Foreign Affairs adopted a framework for targeted restrictive measures against persons and entities responsible for undermining the rule of law or obstructing an inclusive political solution in Maldives as well as persons and entities responsible for serious human rights violations.
As there are widespread allegations of the State using its administrative resources to actively campaign for the re-elections of President Yameen, the MEPs demand to impose sanctions.
"It is reported too that foreign journalists have also been denied accreditation to cover Maldives during the election cycle whilst the state media is seemingly campaigning actively for President Yameen and restricting coverage of the MDP Opposition candidate. Giving this worrying set of circumstances, we call on you to consider recommending that the Council make use of the framework for targeted sanctions in respect of the Maldives, as adopted in July of this year," they said in the letter.
It added: "Those found to be responsible for preventing a transparent and inclusive Presidential election should be added to the list, implementing the travel bans and asset freezes as provided for."
Pier Antonio Panzeri, a member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, who recently met with leaders of the Maldives, also wrote to Federica and highlighted concerns regarding the Presidential elections.
He wrote: "The decision of the Council is in line with the 15 March, 2018, urgency resolution of Parliament on the situation in Maldives, which calls on the government of Maldives to lift the state of emergency immediately, to respect the fundamental rights of all people including the right to freedom of expression and assembly, as well as the rule of law. Parliament also called for the safety of all civil society activists, human rights defenders and media workers in the country."
"Lastly, Parliament called on the EU to make full use of all instructions at its disposal to promote respect for human rights and democratic principles in Maldives, including, the suspension of EU financial assistance to the country pending the resumption of rule of law and abidance by democratic principles", he wrote in the letter.
Pier Antonio Panzeri, who is an Italian politician, said in his letter: "It is my hope that the upcoming Presidential elections are transparent and credible, voters are given a genuine choice, parties are able to campaign freely and that the government engages in a genuine dialogue with the leaders of the Opposition. Easing political tension will also work against radicalisation and in turn help to address the threat of terrorism, as relatively high numbers of foreign fighters for Daesh come from Maldives." (ANI)