Transparency is essential for a functioning democracy. In the Maldives, President Abdulla Yameen has threatened the stability of his country’s democracy through his dictatorial activities regarding the upcoming federal elections.
Yameen knows that the election process starts well before the ballot boxes, and he has worked to ensure his power remains at all costs. This includes barring opposition members from parliamentary votes, arbitrary arrest and imprisonment of political opponents, and the enactment of a “state of emergency” so further draconian laws can be swiftly implemented. Yameen is so determined to intimidate the opposition, he has also vowed to reinstate the death penalty.
In response to his tyranny, on 16 July the EU announced it had “adopted a framework for targeted sanctions in the Maldives, making it possible, if the situation does not improve, to impose a travel ban and asset freeze on relevant individuals and entities.”
The decision presented a “framework for targeted restrictive measures against persons and entities responsible for undermining the rule of law or obstructing an inclusive political solution in the Maldives as well as persons and entities responsible for serious human rights violations.” However, the attached sanctions list was empty, leading Yameen to announce publicly that the European Union’s actions are meaningless.
Yameen is confident that the EU’s proposed sanctions are not serious, and with the support of his sponsors, Communist China and the Fundamentalists from Saudi Arabia and Isis, he believes the election is his for the taking.
This month, I visited the Maldives, to meet with citizens and the opposition to look at the reality. I witnessed the Maldivian government’s lack of intention to remedy the situation, with the continued manipulations of the electoral process.
The official Elections Commission continues to obstruct any possibility of free and fair elections. The opposition is neither able to campaign, hold rallies, nor display posters. This contrary to the public demonstrations and support for Isis and returning fighters in the Maldives due to the President’s close ties with radical Islam.
The government is playing for time. Maldivian citizens see systematic fraud and falsification through corruption of their electoral process and feel hopeless.
Meanwhile, the opposition have formed a coalition and agreed on a common candidate, veteran lawmaker Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih who has a strong popularity among voters. But the authoritarian regime is determined to rig the election against him. Therefore, it is imperative that the European Union make it clear to Yameen and his supporters that the international community will not accept a fraudulent election result.
In order to prove their dedication to democracy, the European Union should already implement the sanctions on the individuals engaged in repression. In accordance with Europe’s stance on transparency and democracy, we should ensure the exposure of corrupt politician, officers, judges and businessmen supporting Yameen and his dictatorial regime.
Furthermore, the EU should already announce, in the case of manipulation of the outcome of the Elections, a total ban on European investments and tourists to the Maldives in coordination with the entire international community.