Washington: The US on Thursday expressed concern over "continued democratic backsliding" in the Maldives and warned of "appropriate measures" against key officials if the upcoming presidential elections were not held in free and fair manner. The presidential elections in the tropical Indian Ocean island nation is scheduled for September 23.
"The United States is concerned about continued democratic backsliding in the Maldives, particularly as the country prepares for a presidential election on September 23," US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said. She said that the US join the international community in calling for the release of falsely accused political prisoners, full implementation of the February ruling of the Maldives' Supreme Court overturning the convictions of opposition members.
"An end to executive interference in the Parliament and judiciary; respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; and holding a free and fair election that reflects the will of the Maldivian people," Nauert said. The restoration of democratic institutions and practices, to include a free, fair and inclusive election held on its scheduled date of September 23, is of critical importance to the Maldives" future, the spokesperson said.
"Absent Maldives' return to a democratic path, the US will consider appropriate measures against those individuals who undermine democracy, the rule of law, and a free and fair electoral process," Nauert said.
Known for its beaches, blue lagoons, luxury resorts, and extensive reefs, Maldives became a multi-party democracy in 2008 after decades of autocratic rule.
Meanwhile, the US Senate on Thursday confirmed the appointment of Alaina B Teplitz as the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives.