EU mission cannot intervene in Yameen’s detention

EU mission’s chief observer, Nacho Sánchez Amor (C) speaks to press on August 17, 2023. (Sun Photo)

The European Union Election Observation Mission to the Maldives says it cannot do anything about the request made by Parliament speaker, former president Mohamed Nasheed, asking for support to pressure the Maldivian government to transfer the opposition leader, former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom to home confinement ahead of the presidential election.

In a press conference on Thursday, the EU mission’s chief observer, Nacho Sánchez Amor said the mission has a solely observatory role in the election.

“We will not interfere in internal politics. And we will not comment on such matters,” said Amor.

He said the mission is bound by a code of conduct, which requires strict neutrality and non-interference.

“We will not look at the outcome of the election. We are here strictly to observe the electoral process,” he said.

In a meeting with Amor on Tuesday, Nasheed asked the EU mission to pressure the government to transfer Yameen to home confinement - a move he said is crucial to ascertaining the independence and fairness of the upcoming presidential election.

Yameen was sentenced to 11 years in prison for money laundering and bribery charges in connection to the sale of V. Aarah for resort development on December 25, 2022.

The conviction disqualified him from contesting the upcoming election.

Yameen’s PPM-PNC coalition later said that Nasheed made the request without consulting with them.

A group of core team experts from the EU mission arrived in the Maldives on July 31, and long-term observers were deployed on August 13.

In total, around 40 EU observers, as well as observers from Norway, Switzerland and Canada, will observe the voting, counting and tabulation of the results on September 9.

EU mission will issue a preliminary statement two days after election day, and will remain in the Maldives until the conclusion of the electoral process.

Amor said this year’s mission is the largest the EU has sent to the Maldives.

He said it demonstrates the EU's “strong commitment to supporting the democratic process and the country's democratic institutions."