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Maldives: Elections

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 15 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department will send (a) independent observers and (b) observers as part of an EU delegation to the Maldives, in advance of the elections expected in 2008. (204959)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer my hon. Friend the Minister for the Middle East (Kim Howells) gave to the hon. Member for West Suffolk (Mr. Spring), on 27 February 2008, Official Report, column 1704W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Maldives government on the distribution of media resources between political parties in advance of expected elections in 2008. (204960)

We have made no specific representation on this issue. We are however working closely with the BBC, the Maldives Ministry of Information and the Maldives Media Association to promote media freedom and skills development including, objectivity and balance.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the government of the Maldives on establishing an independent election commission in advance of the expected elections in 2008. (204961)

In a meeting with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in April, the Maldivian Foreign Minister, Abdulla Shahid, stated that an Interim Election Commission would be created within 30 days of the ratification of the new Constitution. He underlined that the deliberations of the Special Majlis (Constitutional Assembly) were nearly complete. Foreign Minister Shahid told us that the Commission would be responsible for all elections-related matters, and that all registered political parties would be able to nominate Commissioners.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the government of the Maldives on charges against members of opposition parties in advance of expected elections in 2008. (204962)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer my hon. Friend the Minister for the Middle East (Dr. Howells) gave to the hon. Member for West Suffolk (Mr. Spring) on 27 February, Official Report, column 1705W.

Free, fair and credible elections are a crucial element of democratic reform in the Maldives. My noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, the Right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, emphasised this point to Dr. Mohamad Asim, the Maldivian high commissioner in March. He also pointed out that the freedom of politicians and political parties to campaign and debate freely was a cornerstone of democracy.