Maldives presidential election unlikely to be 'free and fair', worries US Amb.

United States Ambassador Atul Keshap worries Maldives may not have a transparent, free and fair presidential election in 2018 with the majority of the opposition currently out of the political frame.

In an exclusive interview to popular opposition aligned RaajjeTV, the ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives noted the prominent political figures of the opposition are either in jail or under court trial.

Keshap stressed the absence of a contending opposition with viable candidates since most of them have been 'removed' from political practice.

Speaking about the importance and role of media in any country, Keshap noted the significance local media can input during the presidential election. He reasoned this was crucial in delivering unbiased information to the public; who most of the time cannot access to such information unless media steps-in.

Keshap commented on a democracy's identity attached to the freedom of media and expression; stating it was fundamental aspect of a pure democratic system.

During the exclusive interview to RaajjeTV, the US Ambassador claimed the loss of a true democratic identity in Maldives has commenced when public was stripped from the freedom of expression.

He also claimed the Maldives government was intervening the functioning of a transparent democratic system by hindering opposition party movements and their activities. Keshap suspected the state was slowly draining the public from the freedom of supporting their political ideologies.

The US Ambassador showed visible concern regarding the condition of the Maldivian democracy as he feared the governing system present in the island nation may become fully compromised in future.

He encouraged the participation of multiple political parties in the presidential election. Keshap urged for a diverse campaign including all political ideologies and the provision of freedom to all candidates and their respective parties to campaign without hindrances or intervention.

Keshap bemoaned being unable to meet with key government members and dignitaries in his attempt to reach an amicable resolve over the political dispute between the ruling party and the opposition.

The US Ambassador claimed despite efforts to meet with top government officials through the standard procedure he was not provided with the opportunity.

According to Keshap US will always act as close ally to Maldives in the latter's efforts in democratic reform which initiated back in 2008.