Germany concerned over police probe into opposition candidate

German Ambassador to the Maldives Joern Rohde on Wednesday expressed concern after police launched an investigation into comments made by the opposition alliance presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih during his campaign trail for the upcoming presidential elections.

The veteran lawmaker during a recent campaign visit to Noonu Atoll Maalhendhoo island accused the police of refusing to aid a sinking boat after finding out that its owner supported the opposition.

However, police on Tuesday refuted the accusations insisting that it had immediately responded to the distress call and had towed the sinking vessel to shore. The police had vowed to investigate Solih's claims after labeling it as a blatant attempt to tarnish the image of the institution for political gain.

Referring to the warning, Rohde said on Twitter, "I find it quite disturbing that media outlets now report about Maldives authorities suddenly investigating the opposition candidate."

"As I mentioned in my last tweet ‘free and fair elections are the feast of democracy!’ I sincerely hope that the Maldives will experience that on Sept 23."

Several countries including the United States, India and the European Union (EU) have continued to cast serious doubts over the September elections.

Some of the concerns include the question marks surrounding the country's electoral watchdog, state institutions and the government's refusal to release jailed political leaders.

The EU meanwhile has 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.

The crunch elections is set to be a two horse race between incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom who is seeking re-election and opposition alliance candidate Solih who has been backed by Yameen's main political rivals including the now jailed former presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Mohamed Nasheed.

Unlike in previous elections, the presidential race would be decided in the first round and is widely seen more as a 'referendum' with a straight choice between the opposition and the government more than an election.