In the backdrop of a state of emergency being declared in Maldives, exiled former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed today urged India to "act swiftly" to help in resolving the ongoing political crisis in the island nation that escalated after troops arrested the top judge of the country.
The Indian Ocean island nation plunged into chaos on Thursday when the Supreme Court called for the release of nine imprisoned opposition politicians, ruling that their trials were politically motivated and flawed.
An immediate statement issued by External Affairs Ministry, New Delhi, said, 'We are disturbed by the declaration of a State of Emergency in the Maldives following the refusal of the Government to abide by the unanimous ruling of the full bench of the Supreme Court on 1 February, and also by the suspension of Constitutional rights of the people of Maldives. The arrest of the Supreme Court Chief Justice and political figures are also reasons for concern.
Government continues to carefully monitor the situation.'
In a statment issued earlier MEA had expressed concern at the developing conditions in Maldives which is an important strategic country for the two Asian giants India and China. MEA had stated, 'We have seen last night’s order of the Supreme Court of Maldives releasing all political prisoners. In the spirit of democracy and rule of law, it is imperative for all organs of the Government of Maldives to respect and abide by the order of the apex court. We also hope that the safety and security of the Indian expatriates in Maldives will be ensured by the Maldivian authorities under all circumstances. As a close and friendly neighbour, India wishes to see a stable, peaceful and prosperous Maldives. We are closely monitoring the evolving situation.'
Pitching in earlier, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), disturbed by reports of clashes between security forces and demonstrators in the Maldives over the country’s Supreme Court verdict freeing political prisoners, had urged the government to exercise restraint while responding to its citizens.
CHRI had in the past highlighted the lack of due process which had resulted in their arbitrary imprisonment of political prisoners This has also been reiterated by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
“CHRI welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision to reinstate 12 Members of Parliament and views this as a positive, necessary step towards ensuring free and fair elections in the Maldives,” said Sanjoy Hazarika, CHRI’s international director.
He noted that it had been the Court which had previously sanctioned the removal of the parliamentarians. CHRI said it continued to support democratic governance and the separation of powers between the political executive and the judiciary.
Urging the Maldivian government to implement the Court’s order without delay, Hazarika said it could be an important move “towards restoring rule of law and constitutionalism in the Maldives”.
The Indian Ocean island has been in turmoil since last Thursday when the Maldives Supreme Court ordered the release of all political prisoners, triggering celebrations by opposition groups which quickly turned into protests as they were demanding swift implementation of the judicial verdict.
The government of President Yameen Abdul Gayoom dismissed a police chief who said he would implement the court’s decision. (An Associated Press report from the capital of Male says that “As of Sunday, no prisoners had been released. The government said it had been advised by the chief justice to follow due process in releasing the prisoners.” A government statement later Sunday said the prosecutor general had appraised the Supreme Court on the ‘numerous legal challenges’ in the implementation of the ruling.”) Among those ‘freed’ by the Court was former President Mohamed Nasheed, who currently lives in exile between Britain and Sri Lanka.