The US has expressed concern over “narrowing of legitimate political space” in Maldives, saying too many opposition politicians still remain behind bars due to the government’s “intolerance” for criticism.
There has been little progress since last year with respect to strengthening democracy and the rule of law in Maldives, Indian-American Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal said while testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“While we acknowledge the extended medical leave granted to former president (Mohamed) Nasheed, we remain greatly concerned about the narrowing of legitimate political space: too many opposition politicians still remain behind bars because the government’s intolerance for criticism or competition,” Biswal said yesterday.
“We are also concerned about the fertile ground for recruitment that violent extremists find in Maldives, where the youth population struggles with high unemployment and a lack of opportunities in higher education,” she said.
Maldives is also one of the most vulnerable nations in the world to the impacts of climate change, and is threatened by seaborne trafficking of drugs and weapons, Biswal said.
The State Department has request a budget of USD 3.3 million for Maldives in financial year 2017. This will allow the US to continue its engagement with Maldives to adapt to the impacts of climate change, counter violent extremism and increase maritime security, Biswal added.