The US would be forced to take “appropriate measures” against anyone who undermines a peaceful transfer of power in the Maldives, a top state department official has said, expressing serious concern over the “troubling actions” taken by China-backed outgoing president Abdullah Yameen.
The incumbent Yameen government was defeated comprehensively by the country’s opposition leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in the parliamentary elections held in the Maldives last month.
While Abdullah Yameen was strongly supported by China and backed Beijing’s outlook, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s views about the island-nation and the Indian Ocean region are more democratic, with views similar to India.
Abdullah Yameen’s party has filed a legal petition challenging his landslide election defeat despite major international pressure for him to step down.
US’ significant statement comes days after Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells met Maldives’ President-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
“The US is concerned by troubling actions by outgoing President Yameen that threaten to undermine the will of the Maldivian people, and will consider appropriate measures against anyone who undermines a peaceful transfer of power in the Maldives,” State Department Spokesperson Robert Palladino said in a video twitter message.
The Maldivian people turned out in record numbers during the recent elections to decisively choose Ibrahim Mohamed Solih as their next president, Mr Palladino said.
The election commission of the Maldives has certified the results of the presidential elections, he said.
Mr Paladino said the US is concerned about the troubling actions of outgoing President Yameen after he approached the country’s Supreme Court contesting the election results.
He also pointed out that there have been reports of serious threats against members of the country’s election commission.
“The United States and the international community would view with great concern any attempt that undermines the democratic process including any delay in the inauguration scheduled for November 17.”
“The United States will consider appropriate measures against anyone who undermines democracy, rule of law or free and fair electoral process of the Maldives,” Mr Paladino said.
During her meeting with Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Ms Wells emphasised that the US is willing to extend cooperation to his government and to assist the Maldives in its return to the democratic path.
“The United States urges all parties to respect the will of the Maldivian people and to ensure smooth and peaceful transition,” Mr Paladino added.
Abdullah Yameen’s landslide defeat was widely reported as a massive blow to China, which financed his administration’s flagship infrastructure projects with huge loans – in excess of a billion dollars. Such a move was seen as Beijing’s debt trap by the main opposition party and the people of the country.