Maldives Declares State of Emergency for 15 Days Amidst Political Unrest

Feb 5, 2018

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The Maldives government declared a state of emergency for 15 days on February 3, amidst a political crisis in the island nation, a frequent destination for high-end travel. Azima Shakoor, the Minister of Legal Affairs, made the announcement via state television.

The Foreign Affairs ministry site posted a statement from the office of President Abdulla Yameen: “The government of Maldives wishes to also assure all Maldivians and the international community that the safety of all Maldivians and foreigners living in and visiting the Maldives will be ensured.”

The unrest comes in the wake of rising political turmoil, after the Maldives Supreme Court threw out a “terrorism” conviction against former president Mohamed Nasheed. The court released Nasheed and eight other jailed opposition politicians whom the judges ruled had been unfairly convicted.

The Supreme Court further reinstated 12 Maldivian lawmakers who had lost their seats due to switching allegiance to the opposition party. The action resulted in current President Yameen’s Progressive Party of the Maldives losing its majority vote in the 85-member Parliament.

President Yameen has been accused of corruption and abuse of power. The president has denied all allegations.

The state of emergency declaration grants security officials expanded powers of arrest.

Husnu Al Suood, former Attorney General of Maldives and former Chief Judge, tweeted Monday that “security forces have blockaded and locked the Supreme Court building from outside and hence the justices are without any food now.”

Political tension within the Maldives has led to strong words against the government’s use of forceful action:

“Opposition members of parliament signed a resolution on Sunday, calling on the international community to impress upon the Government of Maldives the need to respect the rule of law, and implement last Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling that ordered the release of political leaders and the reinstatement of 12 opposition MPs.”

Several foreign governments including the United States, as well as the United Nations and the European Union, have admonished Yameen to respect the rule of law.

A tweet from the US National Security Council warned, “America stands with the people of Maldives. The Maldivian government and military must respect the rule of law, freedom of expression, and democratic institutions. The world is watching.”

Feature photo: Maldives police forcibly enter the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) camp to break up celebrations of opposition supporters gathered to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision to order the release of all jailed political leaders near the capital Male on February 2, 2018. (Photo by AFP/Getty Images)

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