Maldives’ former President Nasheed seeks Indian military intervention in crisis-ridden country

Urges New Delhi to send an envoy to Male to free dissidents; Opposition leaders say they fear more arrests; President Abdulla Yameen defends emergency

Updated - November 28, 2021 08:03 am IST

Published - February 06, 2018 12:23 pm IST - COLOMBO

 Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed.

Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed.

Exiled former President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed on Tuesday sought India’s military intervention in the country to release dissidents in prison.

However, three Supreme Court judges annulled a portion of the order that set off a crisis in the Maldives, revoking the earlier order for releasing the nine Opposition leaders including Mr. Nasheed, who is currently in Colombo.

The development comes on the day that the Chief Justice and a Supreme Court judge were arrested, after troops stormed the Supreme Court in the wee hours. It follows President Abdulla Yameen’s declaration of a state of emergency on Monday.

The amended order also restored the powers of the Judicial Service Commission to investigate conduct of judges. However, the part which ordered the reinstatement of 12 expelled MPs remains unchanged, the President’s office confirmed.

President of the Maldives Bar Association and a former Attorney-General Husnu Suood told The Hindu that “the legality of the revised order is in question, as the CJ and another justice of the Supreme Court are in detention”.

Nasheed’s return

The reversal of the order significantly alters the political situation in the Maldives. In effect, it makes Mr. Nasheed’s imminent return to Male unlikely. After the surprise SC ruling on February 1, he vowed to run for presidency in the elections scheduled this year.

Following Mr. Yameen’s declaration of emergency rule and a spate of high-profile arrests in the capital, Mr. Nasheed said: “We would like the Indian government to send an envoy, backed by its military, to free the judges and the political detainees, including former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, from their detention and to bring them to their homes. We are asking for a physical presence.”

Accusing Mr. Yameen of declaring martial law illegally, Mr. Nasheed said: “We must remove him from power. The people of the Maldives have a legitimate request to world governments, especially to India and the U.S.” He called on Washington to stop all financial transactions of regime leaders.

Delivering a televised address to the nation on Tuesday, Mr. Yameen said there was no enforcement of a curfew or travel restrictions. He observed that the apex court had overstepped its authority in ordering the politicians released: “This state of emergency is the only way I can determine how deep this plot, this coup, goes,” he said, according to an Associated Press news report.

Meanwhile, Opposition MPs in Male said they feared being arrested, amid the wave of arrests in the capital since Monday.

Needs Parliament’s nod

Mr. Yameen needs to send his reasons for declaring emergency within 48 hours of declaration to Parliament for its approval.

“If it is not approved by Parliament, the state of emergency will lapse. For that reason, [Opposition] parliamentarians are expected to be arrested,” senior lawyer Mr. Suood told The Hindu . Attempts to obtain a comment from the President’s office on this were unsuccessful.

“There is an imminent threat [to us],” Opposition MP and lawyer Ali Hussain told The Hindu from Male. “The military takeover of the Parliament house and the Supreme Court shows that the President may order just anything he wants to be carried out.”

The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on the government in Male to lift the state of emergency and guarantee safety for its citizens, “including members of the judiciary”.

Since Mr. Yameen took control of the overwhelmingly Muslim country of about 4,27,000 people in 2013, his government has faced heavy criticism over the detention of opponents, political influence over the judiciary and the lack of freedom of speech.

Located near key shipping lanes, the Maldives have assumed greater importance after China began building political and economic ties as part of its so-called ‘String Of Pearls’ strategy to build a network of ports in the Indian Ocean region.



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