Presidential elections begin in the Maldives despite concern from external observers

Presidential elections begin in the Maldives despite concern from external observers

Presidential elections will begin in the Maldives today, as the country attempts a credible democratic vote, despite a history of

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Photo: Reuters

Presidential elections will begin in the Maldives today, as the country attempts a credible democratic vote, despite a history of cracking down on political opposition.

The decisions to hold what the small Indian Ocean republic calls ‘transparent and open’ elections, follows months of pressure from the European Union and allies in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation for a return to democratic processes in the Maldives. June’s presidential primary elections for the opposition consisted of a single candidate, Mohamed Nasheed, who was convicted on internationally criticised terrorism charges in 2015, eventually resulting in a court order barring him from running. Incumbent President Abdulla Yameen is expected to seek a second term, while the remnants of the opposition try to bargain for a common candidate.

Observers from eight nations and the EU are expected to participate in election monitoring. However, prospects for a truly transparent and competitive electoral process are slim. This is due to the state of emergency decrees that President Yameen has used in the past to quash victories or acquittals of opposition figures. Expect strong regional and international scrutiny of the election results, but little prospects for major political change.

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