Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Situation in the Maldives

Delivered in Plenary - 23 October 2013

Mr President

2008 saw the Maldives’ first democratic election, in which Mohamed Nasheed became President, representing a turning point for the country. We all hoped, as friends of the Maldives, for a future of multiparty politics and peaceful democratic rule in that small South Asian island paradise. It is therefore with a mixture of alarm and profound regret that we have looked on the deteriorating situation over the past 18 months, with an effective coup ousting MDP President Nasheed, followed by a political campaign waged against him for having dared to challenge sharia law in his country.

The free and fair election last month therefore represented a fresh opportunity, which was comprehensively endorsed by the international community and observers. The Supreme Court’s decision, which was highly controversial, to now annul the result of the election which would have put Mr Nasheed comfortably on the path to being re-elected as President, and the forcible prevention by the police of a further poll, to me smacks of judicial and political interference in a clear, democratic process and is unacceptable.

The people of the Maldives deserve better than this. They must have their voices heard and their decisions respected. The constitutional crisis which looms in Malé if a new president is not elected before the current president’s mandate expires could spell disaster for this small but dignified Commonwealth nation. I therefore join colleagues in the House in calling for Maldivian politicians to put the interests of their country before their own political futures and to help create a truly democratic society where it is the people, and not a small band of disfavoured elites allied to ex- President Gayoom and the Islamist parties, who determine the country’s future. We in the EU should apply maximum pressure to reverse the judicial coup.