All hell breaks loose as Maldivian president Abdulla Yameen declares State Emergency

By Prateeksha Gopinath

Things took an ugly turn on Monday, 5th of February, as President Abdulla Yameen declared an emergency in the State of Maldives. In an obdurate show of dissent over the Supreme Court’s ruling to release nine imprisoned politicians from the opposition party, Yameen allowed for the siege of the Supreme Court by the military troops.

A state of anarchy

Hailing the Supreme Court’s order as a blatant show of disrespect to the government, President Yameen ordered for the arrest of former President and opposition leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the half-brother of Abdulla Yameen was the ruler of the archipelago for three decades before getting ousted by Mohammed Nasheed in 2008. Mohammed Nasheed, who was expelled in 2013, went on to form an alliance with Gayoom.

Gayoom, a harsh critic of Yameen’s policies, castigated him on his Twitter handle for his anarchist ways. Reinstating faith in his followers, Gayoom used his twitter posts to ask his acolytes to maintain their resolve during these trying times. Mohammed Nasheed, who is currently in Sri Lanka, rebuked Yameen for his undemocratic ways and called upon the security forces to serve the interests of the Maldivian people. Nasheed having been convicted and sentenced to thirteen years in prison, under Maldives’ Anti-Terror Laws, has been taking refuge in the UK from 2016 for medical reasons.As a political ally in an alliance with Gayoom, Nasheed intends to overthrow Yameen in the next presidential elections.

The emergency: An obstruction to justice?

The 15-day state of emergency was called on immediately after the Supreme Court’s order to reinstate twelve MPs who had switched their allegiance from Yameen’s party to that of the opposition, heightening the vulnerable status of the President. With the reinstatement of the twelve MPs, Yameen’s Progressive Party of Maldives would be rendered powerless, owing to the loss of majority in the 85-membered parliament. Issuing the arrests of two of the four Supreme Court Justices, Abdulla Saeed and Ali Hamid, and of another judicial officer, the President drew criticism from international media. The call for the emergency was highly condemned by International Human Rights Organizations as an appalling obstruction to justice. Engulfed in a state of chaos, the Maldivian Judiciary has been currently suspended, rendering it bereft of its judicial powers.

India’s stance

India having very close ties with the Maldives, advised its citizens to defer from travelling to the island nation. India having had sent 1600 para-military troops during the 1988 siege of Maldives by the Sri Lankan Army, has maintained a neutral stand till now. The Indian government has not yet shown any sign of such military intervention. India, having restored Gayoom’s lost power in 1988, might be expected to perform a similar intervention in the light of serving human justice. China, on the other hand, has strictly urged its diaspora in the Maldives to refrain from public gatherings. The tourism sector of the ‘crisis-hit country’ is bearing the brunt as there has been a substantial decline in the level of tourist inflow to this tropical paradise.

Yameen, under surmounting pressure from the United States has no alternative but to restore peace in the island nation. His actions being commensurate with the martial law defies the principles of democracy. He might be left with no choice but to end his undemocratic ways by adhering to the Supreme Court’s  ruling.

Photo by Flickr under CC BY-SA 2.0