Maldives suspends democracy: Emergency declared for 30 days

Maldives-President-Abdulla-Yameen

In a disturbing development in region, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom declared an emergency in the picturesque island state, better known as the idyllic destination for honeymooners, on November 4.

“The reason for the emergency declared is because the Maldives National Defence Force and the Maldives Police have discovered a large cache of arms in two different locations in the Maldives,” Foreign Minister Dunya Gayoom said. “The security forces have information that some individuals are planning to use these weapons and ammunition”, she explained.

While this move by the Maldives government has taken the international community by surprise, political commentators in the country say things have been headed this way for a while, and the decision was not surprising. The opposition party MDP sees this as a move to stop a rally called by the party, which had been expected to draw a record number of protestors in the capital on November 6.

Mr Yameen had survived an assassination attempt on September 28 when a bomb exploded in the boat he was travelling which injured several people including his wife. The decision to impose emergency is triggered by a combination of many domestic political factors leading to the present political impasse. “President Yameen has declared a state of emergency to ensure the safety and security of every citizen,” his spokesman Muaz Ali tweeted.

MDP leader Mohamed Nasheed was jailed in March after a widely criticised conviction under anti-terror laws and his arrest had also created a rift  between India and the Maldives, which reportedly led to postponement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the island nation in March.   There has been no official reaction from India so far on the decision. The latest developments in the island nation may once again be seen as a setback in the ties between the two countries, just when it looked like the relations were improving following External Affairs Minsiter Sushma Swaraj’s visit to the Maldives.

The emergency will give security forces sweeping powers to arrest suspects.

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