'Meager support for Maldives' UNSC bid shows dire need for reform'

Two former foreign ministers have expressed huge disappointment by the defeat Maldives suffered in Friday's bid for a highly coveted spot on the United Nations (UN) security council saying that the meager support shows dire need for sweeping reforms in the archipelago ravaged by political turmoil.

Indonesia defeated the Maldives in the only contested election for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council starting January 1 to join the UN's most powerful body along with Germany, Belgium, South Africa and the Dominican Republic.

Despite huge confidence by the Maldives government to pull off a successful bid, Indonesia triumphed with an overwhelming 144 to 46 votes.

"... Maldives was re-elected for a second term at HRC council, today’s result at UNSC shows that significant work needs to be done to rectify things in the country, ensure free & fair judiciary & regain the respect of the international community," former foreign minister Dhunya Maumoon said on Twitter.

Former foreign minister Abdulla Shahid said it had been his "honor and privilege" to submit Maldives’ candidature for the 2019 -2020 UNSC.

"Losing our bid in the election today by securing only 46 votes is a sad reflection of how low Maldives standing has been dragged down by the current regime," Shahid who is now a top opposition lawmaker added.

Maldives government meanwhile had expressed disappointment saying that small States were not getting the opportunity to meaningfully contribute to the international peace and security.

"In its 72 years of the United Nations, only 8 Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have had the opportunity to serve on the Security Council," the statement read.

Winning a seat on the Security Council is a pinnacle of achievement for many countries - especially for the smaller nations as it gives them a strong voice in matters dealing with international peace and security.

The rather embarrassing defeat would be a major blow to the Maldives government and could be perceived as a significant sign of the fading international support for the island nation ravaged by unprecedented political strife.

Incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's government has been under intense international pressure over the jailing of key opposition leaders and curbing of constitutional rights and freedoms.

One of Yameen's vice presidents, two of his defense ministers, two supreme court justices, a prosecutor general and numerous opposition politicians have been jailed. Former strongman and Yameen's elder half brother Maumoon Abdul Gayoom - now an opposition politician himself - is under detention and on trial for terrorism.

In February, the Supreme Court ordered the release and retrial of self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed and several of Yameen's opponents. But Yameen quickly had two Supreme Court justices arrested under a state of emergency, accusing them of plotting to unlawfully oust him from power.

The remaining three judges have since annulled the order to release the jailed leaders.