Free, fair election unlikely when candidates are in jail, under court trial, or in exile: US Ambassador

  • Ambassador Keshap also expressed concern over how the jailing of politicians impact their families
  • He said part of having a legitimate and free and fair election is having a functional media that can engage fully in the exchange of ideas
  • Keshap said that many countries "hope and pray" that there would be a free and fair election in Maldives coming up in September

K. Male' | Zunana Zalif | 06-June-2018 | Wednesday 21:22 | zunana | Local | 1,013

US Ambassador visits Maldives, given interview to RaajjeTV -- Photo by: Ashwa Faheem

United States Ambassador Atul Keshap has said that it is very hard to see how there can be a free and fair election in Maldives when prominent candidates are either in jail, under court trial, or in exile.

The US Ambassador said this in an exclusive interview with RaajjeTV on Wednesday.

In the interview, Ambassador Keshap also expressed concern over how the jailing of politicians impact their families.

"I met with the mothers and the wives and the daughters of some of these politicians who have been in jail for more than three years four years. Just forget about the politics forget about whatever impact in that field. The personal impact on the daily lives of people is devastating. To meet these very brave courageous women who are trying to manage their families, raise their children without fathers, without brothers, without husbands. It’s a terrible impact just on the human scale for people who you know, through no sin of their own, marry people who are in politics. So my heart really feels for these people and I have a great deal of sympathy for what they’re going through” said Keshap.

He went on to say that while elections are a very vital corner stone of any democracy, part of having a legitimate and free and fair election is having a functional media that can engage fully in the exchange of ideas.

He said that a democratic country also need to have a political party system basically able to do its own internal business and field its own candidates, and also impartial and fair 'umpire'.

"You can’t have someone take off the jersey of the team that he is on and put on the umpire’s jersey and then umpire the cricket match. You have to have an impartial umpire in the Elections Commission so that there is an equitable treatment of all of the political players and you need to ensure that the people who engage in politics are able to do so freely" Keshap added.

Keshap said that many countries including his own have expressed concern over the issues he just highlighted and that they "hope and pray" that there would be a free and fair election in Maldives coming up in September.

The Ambassador voiced his hope that people themselves will be able to express themselves freely and assert and use their constitutional rights as Maldivian citizens. He also said that he is amazed by the sheer potential of the Maldivian people and added that the country is brimming with human potential and awareness of the world.



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