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AN ISLAND IN AMID TENSION: MALDIVES CRISIS

 

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Written By: Vishad Srivastava

The Maldives, officially the Republic of Maldives is a South Asian island country, located in the Indian Ocean. The country is in amid of serious issues and concerns and concern is the imposition of emergency after the order of apex court of Maldives. All this is being condemned by every nation and it is a great depreciation in values of constitutionalism, democracy, and faith of common people of Maldives in their constitution. These recent developments are of grave nature which resembles India’s emergency period in Indira Gandhi regime and Indian people know this grave act who had paid a cost to this killing of democracy. Let us see what made Maldives to be in emergency.

What is the issue?

In an unexpected move last week, the Maldives Supreme Court ordered the release of several imprisoned opposition lawmakers, ruling that their trials were politically motivated. President Abdulla Yameen refused to comply with the decision and instead imposed a state of emergency for a period of 15 days. This afforded him sweeping powers to send security forces into the Supreme Court building in the capital city of Male on Monday. Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Judge Ali Hameed were both arrested in the early hours of Tuesday, local police said via Twitter, although charges were not specified. Their detention was soon followed by the arrest of Yameen’s estranged half-brother, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom — who had ruled the country for more than 30 years until a transition to democracy in 2008. Since Yameen became president in a controversial election in 2013, he has systematically crushed dissidence within his party and removed rivals from the political arena. For instance, MDP leader and former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed, the archipelago’s first democratically elected leader, was convicted on terrorism charges in 2015 and sentenced to 13 years in jail. While Nasheed has been living in self-exile in Britain since 2016, several other opposition leaders, including a former defense minister in the Nasheed government, Mohamed Nazim; Yameen’s once “trusted” vice-president, Ahmed Adheeb; and leader of the opposition Adhaalath Party, Sheikh Imran Abdulla, are in jail on long prison terms. What set off the current crisis was a Supreme Court ruling on February 1, overturning the convictions of Yameen’s rivals. In addition to ordering the government to release the nine convicted opposition leaders, the apex court called for reinstating 12 parliamentarians who were stripped of their seats last year when they left Yameen’s Progressive Party of Maldives to join the opposition.

Rationale behind this decision

The reason underlying Yameen’s controversial decisions is obvious: he is determined to cling to power. Reinstating the 12 parliamentarians would reduce his government to a minority. That would enable parliament to oust him in a no-confidence vote. Besides, Yameen seems apprehensive that allowing Nasheed to return to the Maldives and freeing the other opposition leaders would galvanize the opposition and boost mass protests against his iron-fisted rule. Presidential elections are due later this year and Yameen fears that he will be defeated by a strong opposition campaign. With the proclamation of a state of emergency, Yameen has prevented parliament from meeting. The emergency will be in place for 15 days, during which he can be expected to pack the judiciary with loyal judges. He is likely to engineer defections from the opposition. He could extend the state of emergency as well. Yameen has already appointed new judges, who have since annulled the court order releasing the opposition politicians. Former president and opposition leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who is Yameen’s half-brother, has been detained and Yameen has fired two police chiefs over three days.

India’s Stand on this issue

Following this, Indian Ministry of External Affairs had expressed concerns over the political crisis prevailing in the Maldives. “Prevailing political developments in the Maldives and resultant law and order situation is a matter of concern for GoI.  Indian nationals are advised to defer all non-essential travels to Male and other atolls until further notice,” the ministry had said. MEA had further said, “Indian expatriates in the Maldives are also alerted to the need for heightened security awareness, and urged to exercise due caution in public and avoid public gatherings.” The MEA had also issued an advisory for the Indian Nationals traveling to the Maldives. The ministry’s official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar took to Twitter saying, “Indian nationals are advised to defer all non-essential travel to Male and other atolls until further notice.

President Yameen sought India’s help but no Minister is there to listen to their grievances so they have sent their envoy to China and Saudi Arabia. From the diplomacy point of view India has not done strategically right as Maldive count an important nation in the Indian Ocean and who consider India as it’s the biggest ally but recently China has affected their politics adversely as an effect to it in sudden hurry Foreign Trade Agreement was passed by the legislative assembly of Maldives. As a matter of fact, we should not forget that in 1988 Indian Naval Forces helped the Maldives to stop army coup but after which India refrain from getting directly involved in the Maldive political scenario. It would be better to resolve the problem by the Maldives alone by giving their judiciary utmost respect and by abiding its rule of law otherwise UN will be the final and unbiased and true jury in this matter.

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