Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Maldives political crisis explained



Maldives political crisis explained

In this file handout photo received from the Maldives Presidency on October 25, 2015, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen delivers his Address to the Nation in Male. Ho/Maldives Presidency/AFP
In this file handout photo received from the Maldives Presidency on October 25, 2015, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen delivers his Address to the Nation in Male. Ho/Maldives Presidency/AFP

Maldives political crisis explained

by Cod Satrusayang

BANGKOK (ANN Desk) - Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen declared a 15-day state of emergency on Monday prompting outcry from Western countries over Yameen’s growing authoritarianism.

Yameen was elected into office in 2012 after the previous president, Mohammed Nasheed, was forced to resign at gunpoint by security forces loyal to former strongman Maumoon Gayoom.

Yameen and Gayoom were seen as allies and Gayoom’s daughter served as the island nation’s foreign minister until last year. However, both men have had a falling out over the past 12 months resulting in the arrest of Gayoom’s son, Faris, on charges of identity fraud.

Parliamentary Crisis

Since then, the elder Gayoom and his allies in parliament have left the ruling coalition and joined the opposition causing a parliamentary crisis. While the Maldives operates on a Presidential system, meaning Yameen’s position is not yet at stake, the defection has undoubtedly weaken the president’s power.

A supreme court ruling on February 1 added to President Yameen’s woes by calling for a retrial of ousted president Nasheed who was convicted of terrorism charges by Yameen’s government. Nasheed is currently in exile in the United Kingdom.

Suspending parliament and the courts

In response to the court decision and the defections, Yameen has suspended the courts ordering military and police to hold several sitting justices. Security forces loyal to Yameen have also arrested Gayoom, whose current whereabouts are unknown.

Western nations including the US and the EU have released statements expressing concerns at Yameen’s decision and called for a restoration of parliamentary norms.

Outside Influence

With a strategic position in the Indian ocean, the Maldives has value beyond its reputation as a holiday paradise. China sees the island nation as a key link in its Belt and Road Initiative as part of its maritime silk road plan. The Maldives is situated close to major maritime shipping lanes.

With Beijing closely courting the Maldivian government, President Yameen broke a contract with Indian construction giant GMR and awarded an airport construction deal to the Chinese government. The move sparked concern from New Delhi who see the Indian Ocean as under its hegemony. India has previously supported the Maldives with monetary and security investments.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting