NEW DELHI – India urged the Maldives government on Thursday to immediately release Supreme Court chief justice Abdulla Saeed and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, sentenced to jail on Wednesday amid an institutional and political crisis in the country.
The Indian government expressed its “deep dismay” at the one year and seven month jail sentence handed to Saeed and Gayoom “without a fair trial,” India’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
India “reiterates its advice to the Government of the Maldives to restore the credibility of the electoral and political process by immediately releasing political prisoners including former President Gayoom and Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed,” the statement added.
The Indian government also urged the Maldivian Government “to allow all institutions, including the Supreme Court and the Parliament, to function in a free and independent manner, and to permit genuine political dialogue between all political parties.”
According to India, it “casts doubt” on the “commitment” of the Government of the Maldives to uphold the rule of law and the “credibility” of the entire process of the Presidential elections scheduled to be held on Sept. 23.
Maldives has been mired in a political and institutional crisis following a Supreme Court ruling on Feb. 1 which ordered the retrial and immediate release of nine opposition leaders, as well as the reinstatement of 12 opposition lawmakers, a ruling that Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen decided not to comply with.
After a period of uncertainty, the president had declared a state of emergency on Feb. 5, citing that the former dictator Gayoom and Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed had thwarted an attempted coup to overthrow him, and both were arrested the following day.