Maldives Leader Seeks Approval To Extend State Of Emergency By 15 Days

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India expresses concerned over emergency extension in Maldives

21 February, 2018

Countries including the United States, India and Canada along with the United Nations have urged Yameen to lift the emergency and restore normalcy.

The UN human rights chief has meanwhile described the state of emergency as "an all-out assault on democracy".

Tourists have been cancelling hundreds of hotel bookings every day since the emergency was imposed, tour operators say, despite government assurances that all is normal in the resort islands, far from the capital.

The Supreme Court had ordered the release of nine jailed Opposition leaders, including exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed, and the reinstatement of 12 expelled legislators.

The Maldives has been in political turmoil since February 1 when the Supreme Court ordered the release of Yameen's imprisoned political opponents and the reinstatement of 12 lawmakers sacked after they sided with the opposition.

Hours before the Maldivian parliament rubber stamped the extension a group of South Asian legislators said they feared for democracy in the Indian Ocean nation, where Yameen has always been cracking down on dissent.

India, the key immediate neighbour of Maldives, has been closely watching the situation with the opposition requesting New Delhi to intervene in the crisis.

Notably, before the vote, the Maldivian parliament's speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed reportedly announced that 20 votes in support of the state of emergency prolongation would be enough to endorse the move.

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The Supreme Court decision reversed its original order to reinstate the MPs, who had defected from the ruling party, as parliament prepares to ratify the state of emergency declared by Yameen two weeks ago.

According to the constitution, one fourth of the members are required for an ordinary vote to be taken and at least half the number of the members should be present in affairs "requiring compliance by the citizens".

Earlier, Maldives Parliamentary Standing Committee on National Security on Monday had voted to extend the State of Emergency by 30 easing constitutional restrictions.

"That was a direct attempt by the Supreme Court to halt the whole country and go into a deadlock", said Ahmed Shiaan, Maldives ambassador to the European Union. The opposition MPs boycotted the parliament vote on the extension, but it was passed by the ruling MPs.

Nasheed, Yameen's most prominent rival, is among the politicians ordered freed by the Supreme Court.

Continuing his defiance of India, Mr Yameen earlier on Monday had appr-oached his Parliament seeking to extend the emergency in his nation by 30 days on the grounds that "the threat to national security has not diminished, and the constitutional crisis has not been resolved".

The country's traditional political alliances have been upended in recent years.

The picturesque archipelago, with 26 coral atolls and 1,192 individual islands, shares close ties with India.

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