United States (US) on Tuesday cast doubts over the upcoming presidential elections with the US Ambassador to Maldives insisting that jailing of political leaders undermines the chance and free and fair elections in the archipelago.
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 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.
Yameen's half-brother and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, chief justice Abdulla Saeed, top court judge Ali Hameed and four former government lawmakers which included Gayoom's son Faris Maumoon have been charged with terrorism for their involvement in the coup plot through the February 1 court order.
The pre-trial hearings of the six had been held separately, but the judge had said the six would stand trial together as the prosecution evidence and witnesses against them were the same.
In addition to the six, two former police commissioners and Gayoom's son in law have also been charged with terrorism.
The main opposition leaders including former Gayoom and Nasheed along with Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim and religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla inked pact to form what they called a 'reform alliance'.
With the candidacy of the four leaders - all convicted and serving sentences on questionable charges in serious doubt, the united opposition had announced plans to nominate a single candidate for the upcoming presidential elections.
"Now jailed in Maldives for asserting their Constitutional rights are one former President (and one more in exile), a Supreme Court chief justice, a Vice President, several elected Members of Parliament, and a party leader," US Ambassador to Maldives Atul Keshap said on Twitter.
"How will free and fair elections happen under such conditions?"