Expressing its grave concern over the worsening political crisis in the Maldives, the European Parliament through a resolution on Thursday asked the EU council to impose targeted sanctions against key officials of the Maldives government and supporters in the local business community.
In a 11-point resolution introduced and passed unanimously on Thursday, the EU Parliament called on the EU "to make full use of all instruments at its disposal to promote respect for human rights and democratic principles in the Maldives, including, possibly, the suspension of EU financial assistance to the country pending the resumption of the rule of law and abidance by democratic principles."
The resolution also called on the EU council to introduce targeted measures and sanctions against those undermining human rights and to freeze the assets abroad of certain members of the Maldivian Government and their leading supporters in the Maldivian business community, whilst imposing travel bans on them.
It further called on the Maldives government to engage with the leaders of the opposition in a genuine dialogue that paves the way for credible, transparent and inclusive presidential elections scheduled for later this year and welcomes the Council’s offer to support UN facilitation of such a dialogue.
Noting that the Maldives remain at the centre of a geopolitical showdown between India and China, the EU parliament had also urged the governments of India and China to show restraint and work with EU countries to help deliver political and democratic stability in the Maldives.
The island nation has been embroiled in fresh political turmoil after the Supreme Court on February 1 ordered the immediate release of jailed political leaders including self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed.
President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on February 5 had declared a 15 day state of emergency after his last ditch attempt to convince the top court to revoke the order failed, purged the Supreme Court by arresting two judges and the remaining political leaders and ultimately had the order revoked.
After the original state of emergency expired, president Yameen had got the parliament contentiously extend it by another 30 days.
President Yameen is facing mounting international pressure after exploiting the rights suspended under emergency state to crackdown hard on the opposition as police have made a series of high profile arrests including former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, three lawmakers, chief justice Abdulla Saeed, top court judge Ali Hameed and the chief judicial administrator.
Less than a day after the arrest of the two judges, the remaining three judges rescinded its ruling to release the political leaders referring to the concerns raised by president Yameen in the letters he had sent to the chief justice hours before state of emergency was declared.
The accusations against Gayoom included bribing lawmakers and judges to influence their authority while the deposed ruling party leader has also been accused of creating discord within the security forces to back the overthrow of his half-brother's government.
The two top court judges are accused of accepting bribes to influence Supreme Court rulings, abuse of power and blocking the functioning of the entire justice system.
In addition to Nasheed, the other top political leaders named in the now rescinded order included Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim, religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla, former defence minister Mohamed Nazim, former vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor and Gayoom's lawmaker son Faris Maumoon.
Former prosecutor general Muhthaz Muhsin, magistrate Ahmed Nihan and Adheeb's uncle Hamid Ismail make up the rest of the list.