Maldives elections begin: Experts feel they should be free and fair

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New Delhi | Published: September 23, 2018 2:20:36 PM

The Indian Ocean archipelago Maldives has started to vote in an election that is being closely watched, besides by India and China, but the rest of the world too.

In recent years, the country has been facing political upheaval. (Reuters)

The Indian Ocean archipelago Maldives has started to vote in an election that is being closely watched, besides by India and China, but the rest of the world too.

The contestants are President Abdulla Yameen, known to be close to China, and his opponent, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who is seen as someone leaning towards India and the West. And experts feel that the elections should be free and fair.

Sharing his thoughts with FE Online, former diplomat Ambassador Anil Trigunayat said “Firstly we hope that the elections are held free and fair and so that Maldives democratic credentials and journey remain on course. Secondly given the recent past actions and statements of the incumbent government and if it returns to power India will have to change its approach in order to help intensify appreciation of mutual issues of concern and collaboration irrespective of their relations with China.”

“This should also be the case irrespective of which ever government comes to power. India needs to count on its goodwill at the popular level. We would expect the new government to make positive overtures to sidestep the recent unpleasant speculations,” added Trigunayat, who is currently, President Millenial India International Chamber of Commerce, Industry &Agriculture (MIICCIA), New Delhi.

In recent years, the country has been facing political upheaval. Earlier this year, in February the Supreme Court quashed the convictions of nine opposition figures, among them exiled ex-President Mohamed Nasheed, who was ousted from office in 2012, reports indicate.

According to another former diplomat, Ambassador Anil Wadhwa, “The election in the Maldives will be watched closely not only by countries in the region but also all over the World. Maldives lies at the crossroads of important sea lanes of Communications. The elections there need to be free and fair.

“ If the elections take place in a manipulated environment it will lead to reactions and backlash from major powers of the world. This has ramifications for drawing in major players from outside the Indian Ocean into the domestic politics of Maldives starting a new power game vis a vis the fate of the island nation. India, will also wait eagerly for the processes and results of the elections,” Wadhwa a former secretary MEA opined.

Unfortunately, the current regime of President Abdullah Yameen has barred free and open coverage of the island nation’s third-ever multi party presidential election since 2008 by barring many international journalists from traveling to Maldives to cover the elections.

While there has been a `Visa on Arrival’ for Indian citizens, — the regime required Indian media to get a business visa for covering the elections.

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