EU reminds Maldives of sanctions warning

The European Union (EU) has reminded Maldives with the conclusions of the EU council which also refers to possible targeted measures over the continuing deterioration of democracy 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.

Following the state of emergency, EU's foreign affairs council in February had passed adopted a series of conclusions on the Maldives which also refers to possible targeted measures if the situation does not improve.

After a meeting with a visiting high-level Maldives delegation on Wednesday, EU's External Action Service in a statement said the discussions focused on the critical importance of credible, transparent and inclusive presidential elections slated for September both for the democracy in the country and for future relations between the EU and the Maldives government.

The high-level ministerial delegation participating in the discussions include foreign minister Dr Mohamed Asim, fisheries minister Dr Mohamed Shainee, legal affairs minister Aishath Azima Shakoor and Maldives ambassador to the EU Ahmed Shiaan.

"The EU underlined that the parliament and the judiciary should be enabled to return to their normal functioning in accordance with the Constitution and opposition parties should be enabled to perform their role in accordance with democratic standards," the statement read.

"In particular, the EU reiterated the importance of the Maldivian Government and leaders of the opposition engaging in a genuine dialogue to address key democratic issues."

In addition to the EEAS, Maldives government had said the delegation would meet the European Parliament and other institutions of the European Union, to further strengthen the existing relations between the European Union and the Maldives, including in areas such as climate change, fisheries, Schengen visa facilitation, electoral and governance reform, countering terrorism and violent extremism and trade.

The relations between the EU and the incumbent Maldives government has been sour in the recent past over the deteriorating political and fundamental rights in the archipelago.

EU had recently cast doubts over the possibility of holding free and fair presidential elections in the Maldives which has been slated for September 23.