India refuses to meet Special Envoy from Maldives as tension mounts

10 February, 2018, 11:03 | Author: Lucy Floyd
  • 11 2013 shows an aerial view of the island of Male capital of the Maldives

Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen's first order after declaring a state of emergency was to arrest two Supreme Court judges, including the chief justice in the early hours of Tuesday, 6 February, as chaos engulfed the Indian Ocean archipelago in recent days.

"In view of prevailing situation in Maldives, applicable penalties of re-issuance, date change, no-show, cancellation and refund charges for travel from/to Male for both domestic and worldwide flights stand waived for travel during the period 5 February 2018 to 20 February 2018", the airline said in a social media post on Thursday.

He also arrested former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, his estranged half brother who was the last remaining opposition figure in the country.

The Maldives, which is known more for its luxury resorts, has become an increasingly important part of China's global trade and infrastructure project, the "Belt and Road" initiative. The Embassy of the Maldives in New Delhi has issued a clarification that it was the Indian government which declined the appointment citing time constraints of its leaders.

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"You should avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations", the USA embassy in Colombo said in its updated travel advice on Tuesday.

But China on Thursday backed Yameen with its foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang telling reporters in Beijing that the "international community should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Maldives".

India, which has expressed concern over the situation, has been silent on the calls for intervention.

"On February 5, 2018, the government of the Maldives declared a state of emergency in the country", Israel's Foreign Ministry said in its travel warning, issued Thursday.

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Since Yameen took power in 2013, his government has faced heavy criticism over the detention of opponents, political influence over the judiciary and the lack of freedom of speech.

Nasheed, perceived to be close to New Delhi, has urged India to intervene militarily, a move which China has warned will only complicate the situation.

He also asked the United States to block financial transactions of government leaders.

Mr Yameen has doubled down since the Supreme Court cleared his political rival, former president Mohamed Nasheed, among other regime critics, of convictions ranging from corruption to terrorism.

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"Firstly, there is a set protocol to send an envoy". But it has since avoided getting dragged into the island's politics. Lawyer Hisaan Hussain said he was gravely concerned by the government's reaction to the court ruling, saying it is a "blatant violation and completely erodes the doctrine of separation of powers".

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