Embassies call on Maldives president to return to democracy

The U.S. embassy and other foreign missions have urged the Maldives president to return to the path of democracy saying they are concerned over what they call recent erosions of fundamental freedoms and institutions of democracy in the archipelago state.

In a joint statement Sunday offices including Norway, Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom and the delegation of the European Union said they support all Maldivians' struggling to preserve democracy and human rights.

The statement came ahead of a Parliament debate on Monday on a bill to criminalize defamation which if passed the diplomatic offices say risks being a serious setback for freedom of speech.

Maldives became a multiparty democracy in 2008 after decades of autocratic rule. However, President Yameen Abdul Gayoom is accused of reversing the democratic gains.