Presidential elections will be a key first step to restore trust in democratic institutions

Press release
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FIDH has been advocating for free, fair and inclusive elections in the Maldives on September 7th. Along with its partner organisation, the Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN), FIDH notes with satisfaction that all party representatives, including former president Mohamed Nasheed, will be contesting the elections set to be held tomorrow.

The presidential elections represent the first key democratic test for the Maldives since the controversial change of power in February 2012 which was followed by a disturbing deterioration of the human rights situation in the country. Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s candidacy has for many months remained uncertain, due to charges which FIDH has termed as politically motivated.

«There is a consensus among international elections observers that most conditions are set for free and fair elections. However, let’s wait and see how the elections go on Saturday», said Karim Lahidji, FIDH president. It is encouraging to note that the Elections Commission has remained committed to ensuring a well organised and smooth electoral process that maintains public trust and confidence, despite the challenging circumstances.

« The capacity of the new government to prove its clear engagement in favour of all the democratic gains obtained since 2008, is more important than the elections’ results themselves », Mr Lahidji added.

The new government must focus on establishing democratic institutions as per the 2008 Constitution, to overcome the legacy of the country’s authoritarian past. Specific prioritisation of judicial reform, strengthening democratic accountability, law enforcement practices, reform of the police and security services, is critical.

A run-off poll is scheduled for September 28th if no candidate secures a majority on September 7th. FIDH and MDN urge all parties, especially the judiciary and law enforcement agencies to act responsibly by upholding democratic principles and human rights standards, and ensure smooth transition into the new 5 year administration of the democratically elected executive.

For more information, see “From sunrise to sunset: Maldives backtracking on democracy”, FIDH, September 2012.

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