'All-out assault on democracy' in Maldives: UN Rights Chief

Glen Norman
February 8, 2018

Following turbulence in the Indian Ocean Island over the last week, culminating in President Abdulla Yameen declaring a state of emergency on Monday, Mr. Nasheed had sought Indian military intervention to release jailed dissidents.

There were many in India who had been critical of the Modi government's light touch approach vis-à-vis Yameen over the last few years as he systematically worked at destroying the foundations of democracy in his country.

India in a strongly-worded statement said it was disturbed over the state of Emergency imposed by President Abdullah Yameen whose government has arrested the country's Chief Justice and former Maldivian President Abdul Gayoom.

Embattled president Gayoom on Monday asked the Supreme Court to revoke its decision.

He returned in 2005 and was elected president three years later on a promise to make the holiday paradise islands carbon neutral within a decade.

The move comes after president Yameen had accused that the chief justice had been bribed to issue the court order in a bid to overthrow the government. During Gayoom's tenure, who served as the Maldivian President from 1978 to 2008, multi-party democracy had prevailed in the country.

"We would like the Indian government to send an envoy, backed by its military, to free the judges and the political detainees", he said in an appeal.

But that is not considered likely in a country where Chinese influence is on the rise.

India has readied its special forces, comprising airborne troops and naval assets, in southern India for deployment at short notice, people aware of the development said.

Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj is now travelling to Saudi Arabia.

India, since the start, has openly expressed concerns about the Maldives crisis and the declared emergency situation in the region.

On Tuesday UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged the government to lift the state of emergency, saying he was "seriously concerned about the unfolding situation" in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

Maldivian police officers detain an opposition protester demanding the release of political prisoners during a protest in Male, Maldives. Opposition allege that 2013 elections were rigged and claims that opposition leaders were jailed to curb the right to freedom of speech.

On Sunday, Attorney General Mohamed Anil told the media that government has information about the Supreme Court's plan to pass an order to arrest and impeach Yameen.

Yameen has arrested another former president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and Supreme Court judges, resulting in political turmoil.

Meanwhile police in the Maldives raided a resort owned by another exiled opposition leader, Qasim Ibrahim, and arrested his son on unspecified charges.

It also said that life in the Maldives continues as normal with all places of work, businesses, schools, government and social services, travel, including all domestic and global airports, and leisure facilities all remaining fully open and operational.

In 2015 he was convicted under the anti-terrorism act of Maldives and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

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