Maldives' main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) on Monday welcomed the decision by the European Union (EU) to adopt a framework for targeted sanctions in the Maldives.
The EU earlier Monday adopted a framework for targeted sanctions including asset freeze and travel ban on key government officials over the worsening human rights and political situation in the archipelago.
Foreign Affairs Council during its sit-down in Brussels adopted the framework for targeted restrictive measures against persons and entities responsible for undermining the rule of law or obstructing an inclusive political solution in the Maldives as well as persons and entities responsible for serious human rights violations.
"This decision makes it possible, if the situation does not improve, to impose a travel ban and an asset freeze on relevant individuals and entities," a statement had said without specifying targets.
Following the decision, MDP in a statement expressed hope that incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom "uses the remaining window of opportunity to remedy the situation" and enter into genuine dialogue with the opposition to pave the way for free and fair elections.
"The MDP supports the EU’s call on the Government of Maldives to engage with the leaders of the opposition in a genuine dialogue that paves the way for credible, transparent and inclusive Presidential elections," MDP said adding that the talks must be "internationally mediated, time-bound, and with clear targets."
The statement also stressed that the government must free all political prisoners, allow the parliament and the judiciary to function freely, restore all constitutional rights and ensure an independent electoral watchdog.
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.
In a seven -point resolution introduced and passed unanimously, the EU Parliament called on the EU "to make full use of all instruments at its disposal to promote respect for human rights and democratic principles in the Maldives, including, possibly, the suspension of EU financial assistance to the country pending the resumption of the rule of law and abidance by democratic principles."
The resolution also called on the EU council to introduce targeted measures and sanctions against those undermining human rights and to freeze the assets abroad of certain members of the Maldivian Government and their leading supporters in the Maldivian business community, whilst imposing travel bans on them.
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.
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.