Citing an ongoing threat to the national security and the Constitution, the Parliament of Maldives approved a 30-day extension of a state of emergency sought by President Abdulla Yameen.
All of this comes after the Supreme Court judgement of releasing nine political prisoners including former and now exiled President Mhd. Nasheed. Under the fear of losing state control, Yameen conveniently closed down the parliament on February 3 and announced a state of emergency two days later. Controversial arrests have been made post the declaration which includes the Chief Justice of Maldives and senior judge of their apex court.
The Maldives is a democracy in its nascent stage. Not even decade ago it got free from the three-decade-long dictatorship of M. Abdul Gayoom, the half-brother of President Yameen. Right after the overthrow of Gayoom’s regime Nasheed became the first democratically elected president in 2008. Losing his second term to Yameen, Nasheed along with eight other politicians including the former defence minister and vice president were impeached in 2015 which the SC in its recent judgement called out as politically motivated.
The Maldives is supposed to hold elections in November later this year, and after the judgement, Nasheed would have contested as well. Yameen being unpopular as a leader, obviously saw this as a threat which led to challenging the fundamentals of a democracy. Another verdict that came out the same day was reinstating the 12 politicians who were suspended under the anti-defection law in 2017 which would have led to Yameen losing his parliamentary majority in Majlis and possible impeachment.
Abdulla does not have a positive image in the minds of the geopolitical powers except China with which it has cordial relations and free trade agreements which have been questioned by the United Nations as well. India, being the eldest sibling of the South Asian regions has condemned the act and repeatedly asked the President and the foreign ministry to end the emergency, but there was no positive response. Nasheed in the recent past also called out for India’s military intervention to save their country via a column in the Indian Express. Indian Government has smarty avoided direct intervention in the crisis by sending diplomats to hold talks, even though China ‘advised’ India to maintain its distance.What is to watch out for is whether the democracy will die out in under a decade of its birth or will the people’s will stand out?