New Delhi:Maldives President Abdulla Yameen’s decision to extend Emergency for 30 more days has provoked a sharp response from New Delhi that had been trying to persuade the tiny island nation to restore democracy. The Foreign Ministry said India was “deeply dismayed” by the development and underscored that the manner in which the Emergency had been extended was “in contravention” of its Constitution.
President Yameen has overlooked repeated appeals from India urging him to roll back the emergency provisions imposed early February; the last one made just a few hours before he announced the 30-day extension.
New Delhi stressed that the extension of emergency would lead to delay in the resumption of the political process and the continuing suspension of the functioning of democratic institutions including the judiciary.
“We are deeply dismayed that the government of Maldives has extended the State of Emergency for a further 30 days. The manner in which the extension of the State of Emergency was approved by the Majlis in contravention of the Constitution of Maldives is also a matter of concern,” India’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Under Maldives Constitution, matters that require compliance by citizens can only be passed if more than half of its total members are present in the House.
Because the opposition parties refused to consider extending Emergency, President Yameen was not able to fulfil this basic requirement. He has attempted to work around the provision by claiming that the state of Emergency would not apply to law-abiding citizens but only “those alleged to have carried out illegal activities”.
According to a Reuters report, Maldives prosecutor general Aishath Bisham had told police that the extended state of emergency was unconstitutional. There has, however, been no word from the police on this communication. President Yameen had earlier removed two police chiefs who had refused to follow his directions.
President Yameen had initially imposed the emergency on February 5 for 15 days to annul a Supreme Court ruling that quashed convictions against nine opposition leaders and ordered his government to free those held in prison. Among them was exiled ex-president Mohamed Nasheed. The court had also reinstated 12 members unseated from the parliament last July for floor-crossing.
President Yameen’s soldiers had responded by storming the Supreme Court and charging the country’s two senior judges and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom with bribery.Since then, the remaining judges of the top court have, one by one, surrendered their power to decide cases individuals and struck down provisions of the 1 February Supreme Court verdict that had triggered the crisis for President Yameen.
The court has also restored convictions against the nine opposition leaders, ruled that there was nothing wrong in the Emergency and gone on to again cancel the membership of the 12 members who crossed from the ruling party to the opposition.