Friday, 19 October, 2018

China says it is against external intervention in Maldives

FORMER Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed speaks to the press in Male on Nov 10 2013.—AFP FORMER Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed speaks to the press in Male on Nov 10 2013.—AFP
Ray Hunter | 08 February, 2018, 00:54

The Maldives is an archipelago of more than 1,000 islands with fewer than 400,000 citizens, more than one-third of them living in the crowded capital city, Male.

The State of Emergency was declared on 5 February in response to a decision by the Supreme Court to order the release and retrial of nine political leaders, and to reinstate 12 suspended opposition Members of Parliament. Nasheed said he will seek United Nations support to ensure he is allowed to contest this year's election. He was sentenced to 13 years in jail on terror charges in March 2015 over the arbitrary arrest of chief criminal judge Abdullah Muhammed during his presidency.

By 2016 he was again in exile in London, securing political asylum with the help of high-profile human rights lawyer Amal Clooney.

In some ways, Yameen's actions are understandable as his options after the Supreme Court ruling were limited.

The troops had then "blockaded and locked the Supreme Court building from outside", according to a tweet by Maldives' former Attorney General Husnu Al Suood.

On Monday, Yameen sent soldiers to storm the court and arrest judges, with Maldives police also detaining Yameen's estranged half-brother and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had sided with the main opposition.

The biggest industry in the Maldives is tourism, and this is the height of the tourist season.

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"We hope the relevant parties in the Maldives will resolve the issues through consultation and restore the national stability and social order as soon as possible". It also hinted at India only intervening to get a stronger foothold in the South Asian region.

"The Maldives would like to invite its development partners and representatives from worldwide organisations and associations to visit the Maldives to assess the situation in the Maldives and witness the safety and security of Male, for their own citizens as well as to engage with the government and key stakeholders in the country", it said. Today, India is keeping its navy on alert and continuing patrols around the Maldives islands, but there are no plans now to intervene.

Mohamed Nasheed, who was President of the country from 2008 to 2012, has strongly criticized the Emergency.

The top court of Maldives had ordered the release of many leaders of the Opposition, who were accused of treason.

The Maldivian parliament minus a numberofopposition MP, was thought to be firmly under Yameen's control. The MDP has argued that it is anxious "that further entrenchment of the country into a Chinese debt trap will result in additional stress on strategic national assets and increasing instability in the Indian Ocean region".

But India is wary of military involvement as it runs the risk of antagonising China, whose commercial, diplomatic and strategic influence in the Maldives has risen exponentially in recent years. Vital resolutions of far reaching domestic and worldwide import, such as the China-Maldives Free Trade Agreement (CMFTA), were passed in ten minutes flat without a debate. This brings Maldives into China's Maritime Silk Road, a component of China's Belt and Road Initiative.

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