United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay accused the Maldives Supreme Court on Wednesday of undermining democracy in the Indian Ocean republic by interfering in its presidential elections. The former South African judge also argued that the court was lining up with Maldivian government efforts to cripple the opposition whose candidate led in a first round of voting on September 7. The court nullified the outcome. In a statement from her Geneva office, Pillay said she was alarmed that the court was “interfering excessively in the presidential elections and in so doing is subverting the democratic process” on the island chain. Pillay, officially U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke as the Maldives waited to see if the first round of a new election set by the country’s independent electoral commission for November 9 would be allowed to go ahead.
Police stopped an earlier rerun on October 19, arguing it did not conform with tough guidelines issued by the court, which endorsed the February 2012 ouster of president Mohamed Nasheed, now the government’s leading opponent.
The Maldives, famous for luxury tourist resorts largely built under an authoritarian regime which had imprisoned Nasheed, has been in turmoil since then amid a rise in Islamic ideology, rights abuse and a decline in investor confidence.