A top UK parliamentarian on Wednesday said Maldives’ opposition is being frozen out of the upcoming presidential elections and urged the international community for more ‘robust action’ against the archipelago. Sir Hugo Swire, Conservative MP for East Devon on Twitter said it was time to “name and shame” those guilty of stifling the opposition ahead of the elections.
“Politically controlled Maldives Election Commission attempting to freeze out Opposition parties prior to the election,” Swire said on Twitter.
“Time for the International community to name and shame all those guilty. More robust action desperately needed,” he stressed adding that the reaction by the international community thus far has been “limp”.
The parliamentarian had also said it was time for tourists to consider boycotting the Maldives – globally renowned as a tropical luxury island destination.
“We may now be approaching the time when celebrities and other tourists start to boycott the Maldives. Worth thinking about?” Swire asked.
The former Foreign Office minister’s strong comments come in the wake of the Maldives elections commission’s decision to deny self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed from contesting his party’s presidential primary.
Nasheed lives in self-imposed exile most recently in Sri Lanka after he was allowed to leave to the UK on medical leave in an internationally brokered deal following his jailing on terrorism charges.
Nasheed’s 13-year prison sentence rules him out of the elections in September as per the constitution. But the ex-president is set to contest the primary on May 30 unchallenged.
However, the commission had ordered main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) not to go ahead with the primary pointing out that Nasheed’s prison sentence disqualifies him as a presidential candidate.
The commission had also warned action if MDP holds the primary with Nasheed adding that the result of the elections would not be accepted.
MDP had previously vowed to challenge any dispute over Nasheed’s candidacy insisting that the elections commission does not have the authority to determine the legitimacy of presidential candidates.
The main opposition leaders including former presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Nasheed along with Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim and religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla inked pact to form what they called a ‘reform alliance’.
With the candidacy of the four leaders – all convicted and serving sentences on questionable charges in serious doubt, the united opposition had announced plans to nominate a single candidate for the upcoming presidential elections.
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