The UN has called for ensuring peaceful, fair and transparent presidential elections in the Maldives next month, saying a genuine and inclusive dialogue among political parties is the only conducive way to build a stable democracy in the country. The Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago known for its tropical paradise, has witnessed political turmoil since its first democratically-elected president Mohamed Nasheed was forced to quit in 2012. He was convicted of terrorism charges and sentenced to 13 years in prison. President Abdulla Yameen, who was sworn in as the sixth president of the Maldives in 2013, is at loggerheads with the Opposition, including Nasheed who is living in self-exile. Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenca is in Male to discuss the preparations for the presidential elections on September 23, UN Secretary General's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said.
Jenca underlined the utmost priority of ensuring peaceful, fair and transparent elections, stressing that genuine and inclusive political parties' dialogue was the only conducive way to build a peaceful, prosperous and stable democracy, Haq said. Jenca met President Yameen and discussed additional efforts to build a level-playing field for fair electoral competition. He also exchanged views with the joint opposition presidential candidate Ibrahim Solih and his running mate Faisal Naseem, emphasising the critical role of the Opposition in the democratic political process. In June, a court jailed former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed for obstruction of justice. They were arrested in February for allegedly clearing the way for an impeachment motion against Yameen.
India had called for the immediate release of Gayoom and other political prisoners, saying India believes that a democratic, stable and prosperous Maldives is in the interests of all its neighbours and friends in the Indian Ocean. Since the beginning of the political crisis in the Maldives, India has repeatedly urged the Maldivian government to allow all institutions, including the Supreme Court and Parliament, to function in a free and independent manner, and to permit genuine political dialogue between all political parties.