U.S. Expresses Concern Over Trial, Dismissal Of Maldivian Election Commissioners
SAN FRANCISCO, March 10, (THEWILL) - The United States Government has strongly objected to the trial and conviction of senior members of the Maldivian electoral commission by the Supreme Court of that country saying, the action represents an unprecedented expansion of judicial powers which undermines an independent democratic institution that has made laudable efforts to conduct multiple successful elections despite previous judicial interference.
The Maldives Supreme Court gave all four election commissioners six-month jail sentences, suspended for three years, for "disobeying orders", while the chairman and deputy chairman of the commission were sacked from their positions by the court.
Their controversial sack comes barely two weeks (March 22, 2014) to the parliamentary elections which the commission is billed to conduct.
The Supreme Court in its Sunday ruling ordered parliament to fill the vacancies within 6 working days.
According to a report published on the BBC's website, the four election commission members were brought to trial under new rules that allow the Supreme Court to initiate proceedings, prosecute and sentence.
The judges said they had disrespected the court by not following election guidelines.
Last October the head of the commission, Fuwad Thowfeek, openly criticised the Supreme Court after it annulled a presidential election that was deemed free and fair by hundreds of observers.
The election commission twice tried to hold run-off votes but was obstructed by the police.
The full text of the US Government's statement reads: The U.
Government strongly objects to the recent actions of the Maldivian Supreme Court, including trying and convicting members of the Elections Commission, ordering the dismissal of the Chair and Vice Chair of the Commission from their positions, and sentencing the Chair of the Electoral Commission to six months in prison.
These actions represent an unprecedented expansion of judicial powers which undermines an independent democratic institution that has made laudable efforts to hold multiple successful elections despite previous judicial interference.
The Supreme Court's insistence on holding parliamentary elections on March 22 while imprisoning the very official responsible for holding those elections calls into serious question the government's commitment to democracy.