An international human rights group said Thursday that the Maldives government is intimidating the political opposition and the media and that threatens the prospects for a fair presidential election next month. New-York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report that the government of the Indian Ocean archipelago state also has interfered with the judiciary and the elections commission. “Immediate steps are needed to restore political freedoms and democratic rule to ensure free and fair elections in September,” said Brad Adams, the group’s Asia director. The election is September 23.
The report said that President Yameen Abdul Gayoom has used decrees and vaguely-worded laws to silence dissent and arbitrarily arrest and detain critics.
A government spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Maldives, known for its luxury tourist resorts became a multiparty democracy in 2008 after decades of autocratic rule. However, the country has lost much of its gains after Yameen was elected to office in 2013.