Maldives govt orders equal opportunity for all pres candidates

Maldives' Attorney General (AG) on Tuesday ordered relevant government and state institutions to provide equal opportunity for all presidential candidates and their respective running mates ahead of the upcoming presidential elections.

In separate letters, the AG office ordered the housing ministry, home ministry, police and state television operator Public Service Media (PSM) to guarantee equal opportunity for all candidates in an effort to ensure a free, fair and inclusive presidential elections in September.

The four state and government institutions were also asked to provide security and protection along with equal opportunity to campaign for all candidates who have already announced interest to stand for the elections.

The AG had ordered PSM to find a way to allow equal airtime and coverage for the presidential candidates.

The decision came in the wake of increasing local and international concerns that the opposition candidates were being denied the opportunity to freely campaign for the elections. Police had blocked and prevented several campaign events organized by the opposition alliance while their presidential candidate narrowly escaped an assault attempt on Monday.

Maldives government has been facing mounting international pressure especially from the US and the West over the contentious jailing of opposition leaders and the restrictions on fundamental rights and liberties.

The archipelago's international partners including India, US and the EU have cast doubts over the possibility of holding free and fair presidential elections in the Maldives which has been slated for September 23.