Abdulla Yameen imposes emergency in Maldives, India issues travel advisory to its citizens
New Delhi: India on Monday issued a travel advisory, warning to its citizens to defer all non-essential travel to the Maldives as President Abdulla Yameen imposed an emergency in the atoll nation following a Supreme Court order last week seeking the release of nine political detainees including former president Mohammed Nasheed.
“The prevailing political developments in Maldives and the resultant law and order situation are a matter of concern for the government of India,” a statement issued by the foreign ministry said.
“Indian nationals are, therefore, advised to defer all non-essential travels to Male and other atolls until further notice. Indian expatriates in Maldives are also alerted to the need for heightened security awareness, and urged to exercise due caution in public and avoid public gatherings,” it added.
According to news reports from Male, security forces had sealed off the country’s parliament and arrested two opposition legislators as President Yameen reportedly delayed freeing the jailed politicians. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets over the weekend to demand compliance with the court order issued on Thursday.
This was despite an appeal by countries like India and the US, besides the European Union and the United Nations, urging Yameen’s government to follow the court ruling.
On Monday, President Yameen’s office made public some letters from the presidency to the Supreme Court chief justice in which Yameen said the court had encroached into the jurisdiction of the state with its order —indicating that Yameen was as yet unlikely to agree to comply with the court’s order.
India is watching the situation with “a close eye” though the foreign ministry in New Delhi has not offered any comments other than a statement it put out on Friday urging the Male government to abide by the court order.
India was one of the first countries that Yameen visited after winning elections in 2013. In 2014, he was one of the leaders India invited for the swearing-in of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But Modi called off a visit to Maldives in 2015 during a tour of Sri Lanka, Seychelles and Mauritius following reports of a crackdown by Yameen on the opposition.
In recent years, Yameen has seemingly aligned the Maldives closer to China—signing up for China’s ambitious Maritime Silk Route project aiming to connect Asia and Africa through the Indian Ocean with a series of ports and other infrastructure projects to promote trade.
In December, the Maldives signed a trade pact with China raising eyebrows in India. Yameen later sent his foreign minister Mohamed Asim to New Delhi to clear the air and reset ties.
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