The Maldives has been witnessing a heightening political crisis since February 1 when the Supreme Court delivered a major ruling ordering the release of nine Opposition leaders, including exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed. On February 5, Mr. Yameen declared a state of emergency, citing “security concerns.”
President Abdulla Yameen refused to comply with the decision and instead imposed a state of emergency for a period of 15 days. The government’s refusal to implement the ruling, prompted a wave of protests in the capital, Male, with angry clashes between police and demonstrators. Yameen declared a state of emergency in the island. Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and another judge, Ali Hameed, were arrested hours after the government declared a state of emergency.
Exiled former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed had requested India to send “envoy, backed by its military” to release judges and political detainees. Reacting to the crisis in Maldives, India on Tuesday had issued a statement saying that the government’s refusal to abide by the Supreme Court and the imposition of emergency is disturbing. Alongside India, the U.S. and the U.K. have both urged Yameen to honor the rule of law and free the detainees.
Maldives President Abdulla Yameen on February 07, 2017 reached out to friendly countries and announced envoys to China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. According to media reports, Yameen’s office announced that the envoys will visit “friendly nations of the Maldives” and “provide updates on the current situation”.Earlier in the same day, China supposedly warned India against military intervention in island, cautioning that it could complicate the situation.
Amid growing calls internationally for the Maldivian government to abide by the rule of law, human rights organisations working in the region have strongly condemned the recent developments in the Indian ocean island. South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) said it was “deeply concerned” at the political crisis engulfing the Maldives, following President Abdulla Yameen’s increasingly “authoritarian and undemocratic actions”. It said, “Mr. Yameen stands accused of multiple charges of corruption and human rights violations” — allegations that he has denied in the past — the human rights organisation noted that the strongman President has been “politically isolated.” SAHR chairperson Sultana Kamal said in a statement that Mr. Yameen’s actions attacked two key pillars of liberal democracy — Parliament and the judiciary. “These acts show blatant disregard for rule of law and have justly drawn both international criticism and local protests in Male.”
Earlier this week, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) called on the Maldivian government to immediately lift the state of emergency and restore fundamental freedoms and rights of its people. “This is clearly an attempt to thwart any dissent against the government, and criminalise popular protests calling for compliance with the Supreme Court ruling,” said John Samuel, executive director of FORUM-ASIA, in a statement. The government should “fully comply” with the rulings of the Supreme Court and release the Supreme Court Justices in detention, the statement said, adding that the administration must ensure the independence and proper functioning of the judiciary and Parliament.
The Republic of Maldives is a South Asian island country, located in the Indian Ocean, situated in the Arabian Sea. It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India. The chain of 26 atolls stretches from Ihavandhippolhu Atoll in the north to the Addu City in the south. Comprising a territory spanning roughly 298 square kilometres (115 sq mi), the Maldives is one of the world’s most geographically dispersed countries, as well as the smallest Asian country by both land area and population, with around 427,756 inhabitants. Malé is the capital and most populated city, traditionally called the “King’s Island” for its central location. The Maldivian archipelago took to Islam in the 12th century and consolidated as a sultanate, developing strong commercial and cultural ties with Asia and Africa. From the mid 16th-century, the region came under the increasing influence of European colonial powers, with the Maldives becoming a British protectorate in 1887. Independence from the United Kingdom was achieved in 1965 and a presidential republic was established in 1968 with an elected People’s Majlis. The ensuing decades have been characterised by political instability, efforts at democratic reform, and environmental challenges posed by climate change. The Maldives is a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). It is also a member of the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Non Aligned Movement. The World Bank classifies the Maldives as having an upper middle income economy. Fishing has historically been the dominant economic activity, and remains the largest sector by far, followed by the rapidly growing tourism industry. Along with Sri Lanka, it is one of only two South Asian countries rated “high” on the Human Development Index, with its per capita income one of the highest among SAARC nations. The Maldives was a Commonwealth republic from July 1982 until its withdrawal from the Commonwealth in October 2016 in protest of international criticism of its records in relation to corruption and human rights.
Mohamed Nasheed is a Maldivian politician, human rights and environmental activist, who served as the fourth President of the Maldives from 2008 to 2012. He was the first democratically elected president of the Maldives and one of the founders of the Maldivian Democratic Party. In the 2008 presidential election, Nasheed was elected as the candidate of the first opposition coalition defeating President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had ruled the Maldives as President for 30 continuous years. Nasheed assumed office on 11 November 2008.
On 7 February 2012, Nasheed resigned as president under disputed circumstances, following weeks of protests by the opposition, which had then been joined by a majority of military and police forces. The next day Nasheed stated that he had been forced to resign “at gunpoint” by police and army officers, and that the protesters had joined with “powerful networks” of Gayoom loyalists to force his resignation in a coup d’état. Nasheed’s successor, Mohammed Waheed Hassan, who had been a 2003 political appointee of President Maumoon Gayoom, denied these claims and stated that the transfer of power was voluntary and constitutional. The Maldives’ Commission of National Inquiry reported that it had found no evidence to support Nasheed’s version of events.
On 30 August 2014, Nasheed was elected as the President of the Maldivian Democratic Party. In March 2015, Nasheed was convicted under the Anti-Terrorism Act of Maldives for arresting Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed while president and sentenced to 13 years at Maafushi Prison. Amnesty International has described the conviction as “politically motivated”, and the United States Department of State expressed concern at “apparent lack of appropriate criminal procedures during the trial”. In 2016, Nasheed was given asylum in the United Kingdom, where he had gone for medical treatment.
Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom
Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom is the President of the Maldives, in office since 2013. He is the half-brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. As the presidential candidate for the Progressive Party (PPM), Yameen was elected as President in 2013, defeating Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) leader and former president Mohamed Nasheed in the 2013 presidential elections.
After a few years in People’s Alliance (PA), a political party he helped form, Yameen joined the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) in 2010. PPM is the party of former president and Yameen’s half-brother Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had governed Maldives for 30 years. The presidential election was held under controversial circumstances following the resignation of president Mohamed Nasheed in 2012. In the first round of voting, Nasheed received 45.45% of the votes and Yameen received 25.35% of the votes and finished in second place, forcing a second round which Yameen won by 51.39% of votes to Nasheed’s 48.61%. The results were disputed by opposition members due to the planned original second round being annulled by the Supreme Court due to a high number of ineligible voters being registered.
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