UNITED NATIONS : UN Secretary-General Tuesday voiced concern over the situation in the Maldives following a decision of the island nation’s Supreme Court decision to sack the country’s election chief.

“The Secretary-General is concerned about the situation in the Maldives following the March 9 decision of the Supreme Court to remove the Chair and the Vice Chair of the Elections Commission and to sentence the Chair for contempt of court,” a statement issued here by Ban’s spokesman  said.

On Monday, the SC gave President of Elections Commission Fuad Thaufeeg a suspended six-month jail sentence just weeks ahead of a crucial parliamentary poll, according to reports. Local media earlier reported that the court had issued a six-month prison sentence against all four members of the Elections Commission. “The Secretary-General underlines the importance of respect for the principle of separation of powers, the rule of law and the independence of constitutionally established bodies,” the statement said.

“He commends the Elections Commission for its professionalism and tireless efforts to ensure credible and transparent elections.”

“The Secretary-General urges all political leaders to respect the democratic process and allow for a peaceful, inclusive and credible Parliamentary vote to take place in accordance with the Constitution,” the statement said. “It is of the utmost importance that the will of the Maldivian people be respected throughout the process.”

The written verdict sent by the Supreme Court to the media says that the Elections Commission members disobeyed its order not to dissolve political parties that have less than 3,000 members.

Last year, the Elections Commission disbanded eight political parties with less than 3,000 members in line with a parliamentary act, though the Supreme Court had asked it not to do so.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly come under fire from the international community for failing to meet international standards and has been accused of attempting to undermine the independence of the Elections Commission.