EU concerned by Maldives' lack of electoral reform ahead of polls

European Union (EU) has expressed deep concern by the lack of electoral reform in the Maldives ahead of the presidential elections slated for later this year.

A statement following an Electoral Follow-up Mission (EFM) to the Maldives in January insisted that the archipelago had failed to implement any of the 22 recommendations made by the mission during its initial visit last year.

The focus of the government, parliament and the opposition has been on receding fundamental freedoms and human rights violations, the statement said.

"Domestically, neither the government nor the People's Majilis [parliament] nor the opposition have sought to address the issue of electoral reforms," it read.

"To date, the political and institutional environment of the Republic of Maldives has not been conducive for the adoption of meaningful and concerted electoral reforms."

The statement also urged the government to extensively discuss the draft laws that are set to address the recommended electoral reforms within the parliament ahead of the presidential elections.

According to the statement, the mission during its visit to the Maldives had noted with concern the "shrinking and polarisation of political space" which had been exacerbated by recent political developments.

"The current conditions have to change so that the next elections are held in line with the international obligations of the Maldives," mission chief Eduard Kukan said.

"Political contestants need to be able to freely campaign on a level playing field, and civil society and the media need to need to be able to freely perform their oversight functions."