Maldives Lifts State of Emergency, But Political Tension Lingers
After 45 days of heightened political turmoil, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen finally lifted the state of emergency declaration enacted on February 5, and extended on February 20.
Yameen imposed the government lockdown after dissension between his office and the Supreme Court. A court ruling led Yameen's administration to arrest a number of key political figures in opposition to the current president, including former president Mohamed Nasheed, as well as a majority of the Supreme Court judges. The remaining three bench judges in the Supreme Court reversed the initial court decision that led to Yameen's state of emergency declaration.
The president's office claimed that the opposition party still posed “a diminished threat to national security,” but that Yameen had decided to lift the restrictions “upon the advice of the Security Services and in an effort to promote normalcy,” according to Reuters.
Despite the lifted restrictions, Maldives' opposition party leaders stated that the country's situation would not change, because Yameen had overstepped the bounds of the presidential seat and put himself above the rule of the nation's constitution. One of the most vocal opponents has been Nasheed, the recently arrested former president who was the first democratically elected leader of the Maldives.
“He has also rushed remand hearings for a number of key state of emergency detainees to ensure their continued detention past the state of emergency,” the parties said in a joint statement.
The recent political tension has greatly affected the tourism industry in this island nation, which ranked No. 1 on our list of "Top Ten Destinations That Need Your Tourism Dollars." While the full impact of this recent situation remains yet to be seen, experts estimated that the country has already lost a significant portion of its annual expected tourist bookings to neighboring countries offering similar views without the potential danger. Travel and tourism accounts for nearly 40% of the country's GDP, with a solid 16% of the population earning their incomes directly from tourism.