Maldives political crisis: India sacrifices its moral standing yet again

There was a time when a newly independent India, a third world low-income democracy, could punch above its weight in the international arena

 Maldives President Yameen
Recent events in the Maldives are yet another example of how Indian foreign policy has over the years sacrificed its moral standing in the international arena to pursue elusive strategic interests, and now finds itself left with neither. | Today’s Paper
There was a time when a newly independent India, a third world low-income democracy, could punch above its weight in the international arena.
On Monday, four days after the Supreme Court of the Maldives ordered the release of all political prisoners, South Block watched as the government of Abdulla Yameen announced a state of emergency in the country for 15-days.
Yameen’s government suspended the Supreme Court and sent in security personnel in riot gear and blue fatigues to arrest the chief justice and another top judge. Later, it also arrested former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. He was president from 1978 to 2008, when the Maldives became a multiparty democracy. Gayoom is Yameen’s half-brother.
This isn’t a first for Yameen. Ever since coming to power, his government has eroded civil liberties and has either thrown in prison or forced into exile, all political rivals.
Mohamed Nasheed, who had become president in the first multiparty elections in 2008 by defeating Gayoom, denounced the emergency decree. Nasheed currently lives in exile. He was one of the opposition politicians that the Supreme Court had ordered to be freed. Currently, Gayoom and Nasheed are part of an opposition alliance.
Nasheed, who currently lives in Colombo, urged India to “act swiftly” to help resolve the crisis. It is unlikely that Nasheed, after his recent experiences with South Block, was hoping for a repeat of ‘Operation Cactus’, but has tried nevertheless.
On November 3, 1988, India had launched ‘Operation Cactus’ to successfully foil a coup by mercenaries to restore the government of the then president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. The US, erstwhile Soviet Russia, Great Britain and several other countries had applauded India, particularly for its “swift” response.
But much has changed in the manner India has run its foreign policy in the last two decades by increasingly looking at international issues through a pragmatic geo-strategic prism of increasing trade, investments and security cooperation.
India has significant security and economic interests in the Maldives. It has, however, gradually ceded its moral authority in recent years, Nasheed’s entreaties asking it to take a tougher position on Yameen’s crackdown on civil liberties, in favour of securing its interests consistent with its pursuit of a more ‘pragmatic’ foreign policy, even as Yameen has found increasing support from China. | Readmore
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Ex-President, Supreme Court judges arrested as Maldives declares emergency

The 80-year-old, who was president for 30 years until the country’s first democratic elections in 2008, was taken away from his home in the capital Male around midnight

Maldives

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen declared a 15-day state of emergency in the honeymoon islands, before heavily armed troops stormed the country’s top court and arrested the Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed. Earlier, a former president was also arrested in a deepening political crisis. | Today’s Paper 

The tiny tourist archipelago has been plunged into chaos recently, with the president pitted against the Supreme Court after he refused to comply with its Thursday order to release nine political dissidents.

The tense standoff comes amid a years-long government crackdown on dissent that has battered the image of the upmarket holiday paradise, with the president jailing almost all the political opposition since he came to power in 2013.

Maldives police arrested Yameen’s estranged half-brother and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had sided with the main opposition and was campaigning against him.

The 80-year-old, who was president for 30 years until the country’s first democratic elections in 2008, was taken away from his home in the capital Male around midnight, according to a tweet from his daughter Yumna Maumoon.

Shortly before he was taken in by the police, Gayoom also recorded a video message posted on Twitter to his supporters.

“I have not done anything to be arrested,” he said. “I urge you to remain steadfast in your resolve too.

We will not give up on the reform work we are doing.”

Chief Justice and another judge, Ali Hameed, were arrested in the early hours of Tuesday morning “for an investigation”, police said.

Hundreds of people had gathered outside the courts complex and police used pepper spray to disperse the crowds.

The court’s shock move on Thursday had also ordered the government to restore the seats of 12 legislators sacked for defecting from Yameen’s party, giving the opposition the majority in the assembly, meaning they could potentially impeach the president.

A defiant government — which has since ordered police and troops to resist any attempt to arrest or impeach Yameen — said the court was not above the law. |Readmore