In an unpalatable turn of events, the security forces of the island nation Maldives have stormed their Supreme Court and arrested Maldives Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and another Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed over alleged corruption charges. In another related development to consolidate his power, the embattled President Abdulla Yameen on February 6 forced the Supreme Court to revoke an order to release nine high profile political prisoners. The remaining three Judges of the Supreme Court said in a statement that they were rescinding the order to release the prisoners “in light of the concerns raised by the President”. This clearly implies that the President Abdulla Yameen is imposing his will on the Judges of the Supreme Court and is not allowing them to function as per their own will and conscience!
Simply put, this development came soon after China warned against military intervention in the Maldives saying that it would complicate the situation further. The warning was palpably directed against India after former President Mohamed Nasheed appealed to New Delhi to send envoys and the government had the military on standby in case of emergency or requirement. India already before China’s warning had made it clear that it would not involve itself in the internal quagmire of Maldives and very rightly so!
Amid a spiralling political crisis in the island nation, the Maldives government on February 5 declared a state of emergency for 15 days following a Supreme Court order recently to release Opposition leaders from prison. A statement from President Abdulla Yameen’s office said that, “During this time, though certain rights will be restricted, general movements, services and businesses will not be affected. The Government of Maldives also wishes to assure all Maldivians and the international community that the safety of all Maldivians and foreigners living in and visiting the Maldives will be ensured.” No doubt, he has denigrated his international image by behaving so imperiously!
It is noteworthy that Eva Abdulla who is an MP and also a member of the Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party said that, “The declaration of state of emergency is an indication of Mr Yameen’s desperation. It only serves to show an isolated man who no longer has the confidence of the people and independent institutions.” The Opposition lawmakers appealed to international actors to put pressure on his government to comply with the Supreme Court order by releasing nine jailed Opposition leaders and restoring 12 expelled parliamentarians to the body. While adopting a resolution, the Opposition Parliamentarians requested the international community “to do everything in their power” to consider diplomatic, economic, and legal measures “to defend democracy, rule of law and human rights in the Maldives”.
ho does not know that Yameen is known to harbor anti-India sentiments since he first became a minister in early 1990s? But for the sake of public consumption and to remain in India’s good books, Yameen has given credit to the Indian government for various aids and interventions in the islands and in doing so has done no big favour to India who deserves it because India has always been generous in its dealings with Maldives! Who can deny that India has a naval presence in the Maldives since 2009 on the island state’s request? India-Maldives-Sri Lanka also hold trilateral NSA level dialogue.
2) The US to stop all financial transactions with the Maldives regime leaders in US banks.” It is with great expectations that he requested India. But India has its own compulsions.
To put things in perspective, while expectations are certainly building up for India’s military action in the archipelago, the Government is hesitant to go for this extreme measure till diplomatic options remain open. India has deep strategic interests both in Indian Ocean and in the Maldives and pressure is building up on the Government to act swiftly before China or any other country seizes the opportunity. It is for Centre to take the final call on this!
To be sure, while the Maldives media on February 6 played up unconfirmed reports about Indian Special Forces being kept in readiness for a possible military intervention, officials said certain units of the Army, including Special Forces and Parachute Regiment, the Navy and the Indian Air Force, routinely train for out of area contingencies. The officials added that certain transport planes, including C-130Js meant for special commando operations, are always deployed along with these units. The Indian Navy routinely patrols the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Maldives besides its P-8I long range reconnaissance aircraft and medium range Dornier aircraft also carry out sorties due to Indian Ocean having strategic importance for India.
oreover, it also cannot be overlooked that two to three coastal radars were installed by India some years back to help Maldives security forces to monitor maritime activities in its region of interest. These radars are linked with the Indian coastal radar chain. This clearly demonstrates that India has always closely assisted Maldives security forces so that they could be able to better check maritime activities in their region of interest.
To tell the truth, the UN, the US, the UK, Australia and almost all major countries have urged President Abdulla Yameen Gayoom to obey Supreme Court orders and respect democratic institutions. The US openly said that, “The world is watching”. Heather Nauert who is US State Department spokesperson said that, “The US is troubled and disappointed by reports that Maldivian President Yameen has declared a State of Emergency, which gives sweeping powers to security forces to arrest and detain suspects, bans public gatherings, imposes travel restrictions and suspends parts of the Maldivian Constitution…The US calls on President Yameen, the army, and police to comply with the rule of law, implement the Supreme Court’s ruling and the rulings of the Criminal Court, ensure the full and proper functioning of Parliament and restore constitutionally guaranteed rights of the people and institutions of the Maldives.”
g forward, France also added its voice to the international criticism of Yameen’s actions. In a statement, the French Foreign Ministry said, “France is concerned by the suspension of public freedoms and by the arrests that took place following the declaration of the state of emergency in the Maldives. We call for a swift return to the normal functioning of the institutions and for respect for the rule of law.” The UK where Nasheed has taken political asylum to has urged Yameen to end emergency. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said categorically that, “…The damage being done to democratic institutions in Maldives and the sustained misuse f process in Parliament is deeply worrying. I call on President Yameen and the Government of Maldives to peacefully end the state of emergency, restore all articles of the Constitution, take immediate steps to implement in full the order of the Supreme Court and to permit and support the full, free and proper functioning of Parliament.”
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.