New Delhi: India on Wednesday expressed “deep dismay" at the extension of the state of emergency in the Maldives by a month, after President Abdulla Yameen sought parliamentary approval to keep the provisions in place beyond the initial 15-day period.
“The manner in which the extension of the state of emergency was approved by Majlis in contravention of the Constitution of the Maldives is also a matter of concern," the external affairs ministry statement said.
The reference was to news reports stating that the Maldives parliament had passed the extension to the emergency under a procedure that does not require a quorum.
A Reuters news report said 38 ruling party lawmakers approved the vote at an extraordinary session of parliament boycotted by the opposition who cited the Constitution to say it required 43 MPs to pass such a resolution.
Maldives has been under emergency since 5 February after a Supreme Court order on 1 February that sought the release of nine opposition MPs charged with treason.
Since 5 February, Yameen has put into detention former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and the chief justice of the Supreme Court. “The consequent delay in the resumption of the political process and the continuing suspension of the functioning of democratic institutions including the judiciary is likely to further delay restoration of normalcy in Maldives," the Indian statement said.
“It is important to ensure that all democratic institutions are allowed to function in a fair and transparent manner in accordance with the Constitution," it added.
Analysts in India said the expression “deep dismay" is an extremely careful choice of words aimed at ensuring Yameen was not annoyed. With Yameen seen as closely allied with China, the thinking in New Delhi seems to be that any sharp rebuke to the Maldivian president could serve only to antagonise him and send the Maldives deeper into the Chinese orbit. India is the Maldives’ largest neighbour but has watched with concern China’s growing influence in the country.
New Delhi’s mild statement mirrors one made by the US State Department overnight that said that the US was “disappointed" by the Maldivian president’s move.
“The US continues to call on President Yameen to end the state of emergency, uphold the rule of law, permit the full and proper functioning of the Parliament and the judiciary, restore constitutionally guaranteed rights of the people of Maldives, and respect Maldives’ international human rights obligations and commitments," the US statement said.