Maldives emergency: How the crisis unfolded, President Abdulla Yameen at the centre of it

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New Delhi | Published: February 6, 2018 1:00:35 PM

Maldives emergency: The nation of scenic islands - Maldives is currently witnessing a crisis due to the ongoing turf war between the apex court of the country and its President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. Here is a timeline that will explain the story so far:

Maldives Emergency: President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom declares emergency in MaldivesMaldives Emergency: President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom declares emergency in Maldives

Maldives emergency: The nation of scenic islands – Maldives is currently witnessing a crisis due to the ongoing turf war between the apex court of the country and its President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. On Monday, the police took Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, Judge Ali Hameed, and former President Abdul Gayoom under custody shortly after President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency in the tiny tourist archipelago for 15 days. The country’s capital of Male remains tense, with many groups protesting against the incumbent government and members of the international community urging President Yameen to put an end to the crisis and restore order in the country.

Background to the Maldives crisis

After 30 years of autocratic rule by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the country voted out President Maumoon in 2008 and elected Mohamed Nasheed as the new President. However, Nasheed too was forced to resign in 2012 after ordering the arrest of a top criminal court judge, Abdulla Mohamed for alleged corruption. Later, in 2013, Nasheed lost the elections and was sent to jail for jailing Justice Abdulla.

Here is how the Maldives crisis unfolded:

January 29, 2018
The Supreme Court received a petition from the opposition alliance in the Maldives to temporarily remove the incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and appoint investigators to look into allegations of corruption and misrule. The petition submitted was signed by leaders of a four-party opposition coalition including two former presidents, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Mohamed Nasheed.

February 1
The Maldives Supreme Court ruled out that the trial against the former President Nasheed, which began in 2012, was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court also ordered the release of nine opposition MPs, resulting in an opposition majority in the Maldives.

February 3
Maldivian authorities announced an indefinite postponement of parliament as President Abdulla Yameen’s regime resisted international pressure to comply with a landmark Supreme Court order to free political prisoners. ‘The People’s Majlis’, or parliament, told local reporters in a brief message that the assembly will not have its scheduled sessions from Monday “due to security reasons”. No fresh date was given for the sessions.

February 4
The Maldives’ attorney general warned the country’s Supreme Court that a move to unseat the president would be unconstitutional. Attorney General Mohamed Anil said at a news conference that he had heard “rumours that the Supreme Court is going to order the impeachment” of President Yameen Abdul Gayoom. He said that the president can be ousted only through a vote in parliament, and that police and security forces would not obey an impeachment order from an “illegitimate set of people.”

February 5
Maldives President Abdulla Yameen declares a 15-day state of emergency in the country, on Monday (February 5). Soon after, heavily armed troops stormed the country’s top court. Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the half-brother of the current President, was arrested.

February 6
Two Supreme Court judges, including the Chief Justice, were also arrested early Tuesday after the government declared a state of emergency in the Indian Ocean nation.

Reactions from International Community
China, the United Kingdom and India have issued travel warnings to the Maldives. “Despite being elected in 2013 with the support of a broad coalition, President Yameen has systematically alienated his coalition, jailed or exiled every major opposition political figure, deprived elected Members of Parliament of their right to represent their voters in the legislature, revised laws to erode human rights … and weakened the institutions of government,” the US State Department said in a statement.

How India reacted

In an advisory, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Indian expatriates in Maldives are also alerted to the need for heightened security awareness, and urged to exercise due caution in public and avoid public gatherings. “The prevailing political developments in Maldives and the resultant law and order situation is a matter of concern for the government. Indian nationals are, therefore, advised to defer all non-essential travels to Male and other atolls until further notice,” the advisory said. Meanwhile, Indian experts have rejected the idea of India undertaking any operation akin to Operation Cactus of 1988 to resolve the ongoing crisis in the Indian Ocean nation.

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