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Maldives stares at crisis as president refuses to ‘release’ Nasheed

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Strategically located in the Indian Ocean, Maldives remained in the throes of the worst political crisis to have hit the archipelago in the past few years with President Abdulla Yameen showing no sign of implementing the Supreme Court ruling which ordered release of all political prisoners, including former President Mohamed Nasheed. “This will be sorted out soon… I’ll deal with the SC,” Yameen, according to sources in Male, told a gathering of supporters on Saturday.

Nasheed, jailed for 13 years in 2015 on terrorism charges, got political asylum in 2016 in the UK, where he was allowed to go for medical treatment”. He has since been living in Sri Lanka.

An agency report late Saturday quoted Yameen as saying that he was willing to hold early polls and also looking to ensure that the court ruling is implemented in a manner that it doesn’t cause “any difficulties to people”.

‘Yameen bid to appoint cronies to SC’

Senior MDP (the main opposition) leader and exforeign minister Ahmed Naseem told TOIYameen was working to appoint his “cronies” to the Supreme Court. “We believe Yameen might threaten the sitting bench with arrest if they don’t revert the decision,” said Naseem. “There is no indication that Yameen is going to abide by the court ruling. We will welcome any action by India which can help change that,” he added. It is significant that while countries like the US, Britain, Canada and India have weighed in with the assertion that implementing the ruling was important for restoring democracy, China has remained quiet on the issue. It is no secret that Yameen has a powerful backer in Beijing.


Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed during an interview with Associated Press in Colombo.

After the court ruling, Nasheed has declared that he can and will contest the elections which should take place this year.

In an interaction with TOI in February 2017, Nasheed had said that India had a moral obligation to facilitate “inclusive, free and fair elections in the Maldives” in 2018.

Yameen’s government on Saturday announced postponement of the functioning of Maldives’ Parliament due to “security reasons” fuelling the perception that he was not going to follow the ruling.

The SC order has, according to the opposition, also cancelled an anti-defection ruling of 2017, thus reinstating 12 opposition MPs. This gave the opposition a clear majority in Parliament and that’s the reason the opposition believes Yameen can no longer remain in power.

Updated: February 3, 2018 — 7:09 pm

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