Maldives State of Emergency

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  • Surbhi Jain

WHEN it comes to luxury travel, this island nation is the first thing that springs to everyone’s mind. Then we think of the white sand beaches, crystal clear water and ultra-luxe waterfront villas few of us can afford. This is true of much of the Maldives, a chain of 26 picture-perfect atolls that fan out across the Indian Ocean, creating an oasis for the rich and famous and a romantic haven for honeymooners.

But also in the Maldives, escalating violence, and a political tit-for-tat between the president and the top court is plunging the entire nation into chaos.

A two-week state of emergency has been declared in the island nation by iron-fisted President Abdulla Yameen, following his intense showdown with the Supreme Court.

Ever since President Yameen came to power in 2013, he has been jailing almost all the political opposition. The island nation has been witnessing political unrest and street protests since former president Nasheed was convicted in 2015 on terror charges and sentenced to 13 years in jail. He was later allowed to go to Britain for medical treatment in January 2016. He has lived in exile since and is currently in Sri Lanka.

The Maldivian Supreme Court had last week ordered the immediate release of former president Mohamed Nasheed and other opposition leaders. The Court had also ordered the government to restore the seats of 12 legislators sacked for defecting from Mr Yameen’s party, giving the opposition the majority in the assembly which would mean that they could potentially impeach the president.

President Yameen refused to comply the top court’s orders, despite growing international pressure and concern, leading to declaration of Emergency in
Maldives.

Soon after the Emergency declaration, security forces stormed into the Supreme Court building, where Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Judge Ali Hamid were arrested on Tuesday. The charges against them have not been specified. This dramatically escalated the legal battle with the Maldivian top court.

As the crisis escalated, the United States National Security Council said in a tweet, “America stands with the people of Maldives and the Maldivian government and military must respect the rule of law, freedom of expression and democratic institutions.” The world is watching.

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