David Amess MP, Chair of the All-Party British-Maldives Parliamentary Group, has issued the following statement:
Following the briefing provided to the APPG by Acting High Commissioner Shiaan in its meeting of 6 March 2013, I am happy that the Government of Maldives is managing the political situation in the Maldives in the manner best suited to safeguarding the country’s young democracy.
I welcome the positive steps taken by the Maldivian Government to strengthen democratic institutions ahead of the Presidential Elections in September.
Additionally, I welcome the decision of the Hulhumalé Magistrates Court to postpone the trial of former President Nasheed, and trust that the State Institutions are doing all that is necessary to ensure that his trial is fair and transparent. It was encouraging to hear that the Prosecution has no objection to the adjournment of the case until after the Election. I am hopeful that this will pave the way for Mr Nasheed being able to stand.
Ahead of the Elections, I hope that all parties will be able to participate with the candidate of their choice, and I call upon all parties in Maldives to act responsibly and engage constructively to ensure free, fair and inclusive elections. We share the Acting High Commissioner’s hope that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will be able to provide electoral observers. Indeed, the APPG is also looking into the possibility of providing assistance in this regard.
The All Party Group has always taken a keen interest in those issues pertinent to the Maldives, and the recent meeting was an opportunity to discuss a number of these issues. Of particular concern is the difficulty faced by Maldivian students in their student visa applications to the UK, and the manner in which British Air Passenger Duty discourages travel to the Maldives. It is my hope that the APPG will not only be able to provide some assistance with these matters, but also increase its activity on other issues of national importance to the Maldives.
The United Kingdom has always been a friend to the Maldivian people, and I would call upon the British Government to continue its engagement with the Maldivian Government, and remain a key development partner.