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

  • Temi tourism project approved by the CDC

    The $500.4 million Tourism, Ecological, Marine and International (Temi) tourism project has been approved by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), according to a notice on its Facebook page on Monday. The project is part of Chinese-owned Union City Development Group Co Ltd’s (

  • Rainsy will return at ‘favourable time’

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy on Saturday suggested he would not return to Cambodia as he had previously promised, saying that like liberators King Father Norodom Sihanouk and Charles de Gaulle, he would only do so at a “favourable time”. “I will go back to Cambodia

  • US Embassy urged to stop ‘disrespecting sovereignty’

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation called on the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Saturday to respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations after it called former opposition leader Kem Sokha “an innocent man” – a move deemed to be “disrespecting Cambodia’s

  • NagaWorld casino sees net profit of more than $390M last year

    Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld casino posted a 53 per cent net profit increase last year at $390.6 million, a sum which is almost equal to the combined net profit of all Cambodian commercial banks in 2017. NagaWorld’s parent company, NagaCorp Ltd, is listed on the Hong Kong