By R M Panda
Several countries including the United States, India and the European Union (EU) have raised serious doubts over the fairness of the Maldives presidential elections to be held on 23rd September.
Bending the rules and abusing state resources, an autocratic President “Abdulla Yameen” is fighting to get himself ‘selected for his second term. He has been accused of series of corruption charges-he has mocked the human rights of the people of the nation, has put every possible contestant in jail or driven them to exile, muzzled the press and has controlled all administrative apparatus to silence his political opponents. The foreign media ( domestic has been terrorized and subdued) has strongly condemned this impropriety.
China loves dictators and is not comfortable with true democracies! Ignoring immediate neighbours and their concerns Yameen has sought the support of China just to stay in power by any means.
In the process Yameen has antagonized besides India, the European Union and the United States. The US has been threatening sanctions against the country but what use will it be when China has now another country in this region to be befriended as another “lips and teeth”.
As the presidential election is just a week ahead, the Maldivians will have to choose their presidential candidate wisely keeping their national interest in mind. Their elected candidate must be able to take Maldives out of the debt trap Maldives is beginning to show.
Yameen got a free hand to violate all the existing election rules and regulations. All the administrative departments and the judiciary are at his beck and call. The Chief Elections Commissioner who is generally considered to be incompetent has been specially selected by Yameen despite strong opposition to ensure that the elections go this way.
Yameen kept on inaugurating development projects and campaigning side by side with his official visits misusing the State Funds even afterthe Election Date was announced. The Election Commission has not objected to Yameen misusing his position and is not likely to do so either.
The President’s Office which normally announces the visits and inauguration of projects by the President has been deliberately silent for the last three months. Media reports indicate that Yameen inaugurated 133 projects and visited 68 islands and all the visits were organised by president’s office According to Election Laws, Candidates are prohitbied from using tpublic funds to campaign other than the funds allotted to the political parties by the EC.
A dozen of former ruling party law makers who were prevented from contesting the elections- an act that was done in collusion with the Elections Commission are preparing to file a case against the Administration. But with the judiciary firmly in the hands of Yameen, no purpose will be served by such law suits.
The European Union (EU) will not sent be sending any official delegation to Maldives to observe the election because “conditions for credible and transparent elections have not been met”.
The warning by the Police that some dangerous act could happen on the Election Day looks like another insidious idea of Abdulla Yameen to get rid of of whatever opposition that is still left in Maldives. May be another “Emergency” is in the offing!
The opposition has accused the police of scare-mongering and said it is to terrorise the voters. The Opposition believes that by these tactics, Yameen can engineer the outcome of the elections he desires. Either derail the election or create a scenario whereby a ruling dispensation can prolong the Yameen rule, regardless of the popular ranchise.
It looks that Maldives is well on the way to get into a debt trap just as it happened to Sri Lanka. Maldives should take a note of the fact another country-Zambia is likely to give up its international airport as it is unable to pay the debts. Malaysia’s cancellation of pipe line projects recently is another pointer of the way China is leading the poorer countries into a debt trap for overall strategic and economic control. The new Regime in Pakistan also wanted to re-negotiate its agreements under CPEC, but it appears to be in a helpless condition.
The Public Service Media has been carrying a negative campaigning with official blessings. Unverified and in fact Fake News are being spread that the opposition is unpatriotic, anti-Islamic and in cahoot with the Christian minorities.
The World as well as the immediate neighbours appear to be not in a position to stop this irregular election that is seeing an unprecedented violation of all norms by the candidate of the Ruling Party.
The writer can be reached at E mail: – firstname.lastname@example.org