Maldives hires top lobbying firm to woo US

Former president Nasheed's international legal team meeting US senator John McCain late last year.

Former president Nasheed’s international legal team meeting US senator John McCain late last year.

Maldives has hired a top US lobbying firm for USD55,000 a month to assist in the effort to boost its image in the United States Congress and the administration.

The Washington based Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is an American international law firm and the most profitable lobbying firm in the United States.

The firm will represent the Maldives government  in connection with “counsel on all public policy issues related to the United States Congress and the Administration” for six months.

The contract mediated by the Maldives’ Permanent Mission to the United Nations has been officially communicated to the US department of justice as per US law.

In 2015, Maldives had employed the services of another Washington based lobbying firm Podesta Group before hiring Omnia Strategy, a legal consultancy firm chaired by Cherie Blair, the wife of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The hiring of Akin Gump comes after the US senate in April unanimously adopted a bipartisan resolution calling on the Maldivian government to redress the “injustice” of former President Mohamed Nasheed’s imprisonment and release other political prisoners.

The non-binding resolution states that since January last year President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has “increasingly cracked down on dissent within his own party and the political opposition, presided over the erosion of judicial impartiality, and put increasing pressure on civil society.”

Nasheed’s heavyweight international lawyers Jared Genser and Amal Clooney have since been lobbying top US lawmakers for targeted sanctions against Maldivian government officials responsible for alleged human rights abuses.

The resolution – which expresses the sense of the senate and is not enforceable – was submitted in November by a coalition of 13 senators from both the Republican and Democratic parties after a UN rights panel declared Nasheed’s terrorism conviction illegal and politically motivated.

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