Maldives on a collision course with India

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen.

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen.   | Photo Credit: Reuters


New Delhi had sent a message asking the government not to extend the state of emergency

The Maldives on Tuesday looked set for a collision course with India, as a parliamentary committee voted to extend the state of emergency by 30 days, defying India’s expectation conveyed hours earlier.

According to an official statement from President Abdulla Yameen’s office, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on National Security voted for the extension, by “easing constitutional restrictions”. The extension, the statement said, was submitted at the request of Mr. Yameen due to the present “threat to national security and the constitutional crisis” following a February 1 ruling.

The Supreme Court had ordered the release of nine jailed Opposition leaders, including exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed, and the reinstatement of 12 expelled legislators.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Ministry of External Affairs said: “It is our expectation that the Government of Maldives will not be seeking extension of the state of emergency so that the political process in [the] Maldives can resume with immediate effect.”

Mr. Yameen had declared emergency rule on February 5, for 15 days, after defying the Supreme Court order. The Opposition termed the move illegal.

‘Illegal extension’

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Nasheed said the government can’t extend the state of emergency legally, because it does not have the 43 legislators in the Majlis (Parliament) that must vote in favour of it. “The Constitution states that 43 MPs must be present during a vote on a matter of public compliance and a state of emergency is a matter of public compliance.”

By implication, Mr. Nasheed said, the emergency, or any extension to it, is illegal. “It also means that any action taken by the government or security forces using emergency powers are illegal.

“President Yameen is ruling down the barrel of a gun. There is zero legitimacy to anything he is doing,” said Mr. Nasheed, who had earlier sought Indian military intervention to resolve the problem in Male.

However, in a tweet on Tuesday evening, the President’s office said: “It is unconstitutional to say that the state of emergency cannot be declared.”

‘Implement SC ruling’

While India is yet to indicate its strategy in responding to the ongoing political and constitutional crisis in its neighbourhood, New Delhi on Tuesday reiterated its position and urged Male to implement the SC ruling.

“It is important that Maldives quickly returns to the path of democracy and the rule of law so that the aspirations of Maldivian people are met and the concerns of the international community are assuaged,” it said in a statement.

The UN, the U.S., the U.K., the European Union, Australia and Canada, among others, had earlier asked Mr. Yameen to comply with the ruling and ensure that the rule of law prevails.

Many countries have issued travel advisories directing citizens to avoid travelling to the Maldives.

Earlier, Karu Jayasuriya, Speaker of the Sri Lankan Parliament and the Chairman of the Association of SAARC Speakers and Parliamentarians, appealed to the Speaker of the Majlis to “immediately take steps to restore normalcy and respect for the rule of law in the country through dialogue”.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 6:40:32 AM |

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