Maldives govt defends UK, EU absence in independence day ceremony

President Yameen pictured speaking to some of the foreign dignitaries who attended the official independence day ceremony held at the Islamic Centre in the capital Male on Tuesday evening. MIHAARU PHOTO/MOHAMED SHARUHAAN

President Yameen pictured speaking to some of the foreign dignitaries who attended the official independence day ceremony held at the Islamic Centre in the capital Male on Tuesday evening. MIHAARU PHOTO/MOHAMED SHARUHAAN

The government on Wednesday moved quickly to defend the lack of representation by several top countries including the United Kingdom and the European Union in the official Independence Day function by insisting that it was not unusual.

Reliable sources had confirmed to Mihaaru that the UK and several European countries had snubbed the ceremony held Tuesday night to mark the 51 Anniversary of independence.

However, President’s Office spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali dismissed the claims by saying that several western countries had taken part in the ceremony.

“Some western countries were represented in last night’s ceremony. The event was telecast live. We are not hiding pictures and videos of the event,” Muaz said.

In the past, Ambassadors accredited to the Maldives have flown down to the Maldives to take part in the independence day celebrations. However, the US had also sent their political affairs counsellor for Tuesday night’s event.

Despite the government’s denial, several top countries from the EU and Britain had boycotted the event.

It is believed that the countries wished to send a message to the government over the continued infringement of rights and independence in the archipelago.

Muaz denied the claims by pointing out that several countries including the UK had sent independence greetings to President Abdulla Yameen Abdulla Gayoom.

President Yameen’s government has come under heavy criticism and condemnation from the archipelago’s international partners after several of his political opponents were forced into exile or have been jailed.

The recent push to implement the death penalty has also attracted international censure especially the EU and the UK.

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