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  World   Asia  23 Mar 2018  With dissidents locked up, Maldives lifts Emergency

With dissidents locked up, Maldives lifts Emergency

Published : Mar 23, 2018, 4:37 am IST
Updated : Mar 23, 2018, 4:37 am IST

The statement defended the Emergency measures, saying they had been precipitated by a “constitutional crisis” created by the two judges.

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen (Photo: PTI)
 Maldives President Abdulla Yameen (Photo: PTI)

Male/New Delhi: Hours after the Maldives President Abdulla Yameen lifted a 45-day State of Emergency on Thursday, India welcomed the move but said “a number of concerns expressed by the international community still remain to be addressed”.

“Though there still exists a diminished threat to national security... In an effort to promote normalcy, the President has decided to lift the State of Emergency,” Mr Yameen’s office said in a statement.

The statement defended the Emergency measures, saying they had been precipitated by a “constitutional crisis” created by the two judges.

Mr Yameen was widely expected to let the tough laws lapse on Thursday after authorities charged former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and several senior judges with “terrorism” this week.

Responding to the statement, India called upon the Maldives to “ensure credible restoration of the political process, as well as the rule of law, before the elections are announced this year”. New Delhi also asked Male to “restore all Articles of the Constitution”, “allow the Supreme Court and other branches of the judiciary to operate in full independence” and to “promote and support the free and proper functioning of Parliament”.

Ties between India and Maldives continue to remain uneasy, with India wary of the proximity between the Maldives and China.

Mr Yameen imposed draconian laws on February 5, following a Supreme Court ordered asking him to free high-profile dissidents from jail.

Fearing impeachment, he refused to carry out the court order and instead invoked the Emergency which curtailed the powers of the judiciary and the legislature. He arrested the Chief Justice and another Supreme Court judge, as well as his senior political opponents.

The remaining Supreme Court judges revoked an earlier decision to reinstate 12 MPs who had been sacked for defecting to the Opposition while Mr Yameen also stripped Parliament of its power to impeach him. Senior political opponents remain locked up.

The dissidents’ release would have paved the way for former leader Mohamed Nasheed to return from self-imposed exile in London and contest presidential elections later this year.

Thursday’s statement said that the two judges had “conspired with political actors... (to) overthrow a lawful government, and whose actions constituted an imminent threat to national security”.

Mr Nasheed said that Mr Yameen had allowed the Emergency to end because he no longer had any need for it.

“He has overrun the judiciary and legislature, arrested hundreds unlawfully and introduced a ‘new normal’ in the #Maldives — full dictatorship,” Mr Nasheed said on Twitter.

“We will not give up, we will fight and we will overcome.”

In a statement later, he criticised other nations for not intervening to end the political crisis.

“It is sad that the international community has still not got their act together,” Mr Nasheed said, accusing the Maldives regime of being a “puppet state controlled by China”.

Mr Gayoom, Yameen’s estranged half brother, ruled the country for 30 straight years before losing to Mr Nasheed in the nation’s first democratic elections in 2008.

The 80-year-old former strongman was arrested earlier last month accused of trying to topple Mr Yameen.

The Prosecutor General’s office said Wednesday that Mr Gayoom had been charged with attempting an “act of terrorism and obstruction of justice”.

He was charged alongside 10 others, including the sacked CHIEF JUSTICE Abdulla Saeed, and Mr Gayoom’s legislator son Faris Maumoon.

The Maldives criminal court ordered Mr Gayoom to be remanded in custody until the conclusion of his trial, although it was not immediately clear when the case would commence.

Mr Yameen came to power following a controversial election run-off in November 2013 when he narrowly defeated Mr Nasheed. His crackdown has dented the nation’s image as a popular tourist destination, which remains vital to its economy.

Tags: abdulla yameen, maldives emergency, maldives criminal court