When should India employ hard power in Maldives?

Posted February 09, 2018

The court had said that their trials were "politically motivated and flawed".

President Yameen has dug in his heels and refused to obey the court order on the grounds that it leads to "encroachment on the regulatory powers of the State, the disruption of the functions mandated to State institutions under the Constitution, and the infringement of national security and public interest", adding that "if implemented, (it) would potentially lead to an undermining of the supremacy of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives".

During a visit by Yameen to Beijing in December, the two countries signed a trade agreement that eliminates most tariffs on Maldivian exports, primarily fish, and opens the Maldives to Chinese goods and services, including in finance, health care and tourism.

The top United Nations body met behind closed doors to discuss the crisis sparked by President Abdulla Yameen's decision to arrest judges who had ordered the release of his political opponents.

The Maldivian Supreme Court had earlier ordered the immediate release of exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed and other Opposition leaders, terming their trials a violation of the Constitution and worldwide law.

The Maldives is an archipelago of more than 1,000 islands with fewer than 400,000 citizens, more than one-third of them living in the crowded capital city, Male.

Tourism dominates the country's economy, with wealthy foreigners who stay at hyper-expensive resort islands.

China is already the Maldives' primary source of tourists and is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in an airport expansion, housing development and other projects. However, the ministry stressed that it is not illegal for Israelis to visit the Indian Ocean island nation.

Israel issued a travel warning for its citizens, urging them not to visit the Indian Ocean archipelago nation of the Maldives amid an escalating political crisis in the country that has seen Supreme Court justices arrested and sparked growing concern in the worldwide community. The others are Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The UN has urged Yameen to lift the state of emergency, and was due to discuss the crisis gripping the Indian Ocean archipelago in a closed-door meeting at the Security Council on Thursday. "China thinks that the current situation and dispute in the Maldives are its internal affairs", Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said.

"We await the convenience" of the government of India, he added. The Maldivian President had recently declared a state of emergency there, much to India's dismay. Maldives' Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and another judge, Ali Hameed, were arrested hours after Yameen declared a state of emergency.

He called for his client's immediate release.

Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed was warned he would be "cut into pieces" if he did not overturn a court order quashing convictions against high-profile political dissidents, his lawyer Hisaan Hussain said.

However, earlier this week, the Supreme Court revoked its order on the release of the opposition politicians.