Insights into Editorial: India remains in the best position to help us
The Maldives remains in crisis after President Abdulla Yameen imposed emergency on February 5, following the Supreme Court overturning the imprisonment of his political rivals.
Background: The series of events
Maldives government has declared state of emergency in wake of the on-going crisis with Supreme Court.
President Abdullah Yameen had said that he declared an emergency in the country as the Supreme Court had a plan to overthrow his government by first making it dysfunctional through a series of orders including release of nine opposition leaders.
Former President Abdul Gayoom and two Supreme Court judges including chief Justice were arrested after the declaration of emergency.
In the later events, Maldives Supreme Court cancels its earlier decision to release nine opposition leaders, hours after police arrested the Chief Justice and another judge.
The court’s remaining three judges issued a statement saying the order has been revoked in light of the concerns raised by the president.
Opposition parties have called for international help saying Presidents’ moves are encroachment on the entire democratic system.
Mohamed Nasheed wants India to intervene in the situation. He lists China’s “land grab” and the threat of the Islamic State (IS) as bigger challenges.
India has asked that the Maldives’ government should abide by the court’s original ruling and lift the emergency.
Why did opposition call government’s decision on the Emergency is illegal?
Government needs 43 MPs in the Majlis(Legislative body of Maldives) that must vote in favour of emergency. But they don’t have that number in the house.
This means that the emergency, and any extension to it, is illegal. It also means that any actions taken by the government or security forces using emergency powers are illegal.
Meanwhile, the Chief Justice and another Supreme Court Justice have been illegally detained. This means anything decided by the remaining SC justices is invalid.
Why did multiparty talks offer fail?
The government has offered multiparty talks to resolve the long pending issue.
However, Opposition parties would like to see the government create an environment that is conducive to talks.
They feel it is very difficult to sit down while the Chief Justice along with the former President and many political leaders are in jail, and there is emergency rule.
Opposition wants President Yameen to create an environment where both sides can trust each other and sit down for talks.
But, at present, the general view is that President Yameen is trying to buy time. The United Nations should be engaged in them as well.
What is the real crisis in the Maldives?
The real crisis in the Maldives is not dealing with dictatorship. The real crisis in the Maldives springs from two recent developments.
First one is that the development of a state within the Maldives by the IS. Second, attempts by emerging powers to change state type, with a view to drive land grab.
During the last 40 years, Saudi Arabia has propagated a very narrow version of Islam that has created a breeding ground for jihadi movements.
It is also worrying that the Maldives has sent the most number of people per capita than any country to fight for the IS. Hundreds of Maldivians have joined jihadi groups. The issue becomes a crisis as the IS would soon spread to the Maldives.
Although land grabs are occurring worldwide, they are more common in countries where the protection of human rights is poor.
Due to a combination of international and domestic drivers, the Maldives has become a flourishing land-grab paradise. China has increased its influence with more foreign direct investments without a proper scrutiny and competitive bidding
The weapons in the new colonial arsenal are bribery, corruption and dubious investments.
What is it that anti-incumbent parties want India to do?
India must be on the ground in Male with an envoy and try to ensure that President Yameen relents.
Nasheed also called upon India to send an envoy backed by military to release judges and political detainees. He also requested US government to stop all financial transactions of Maldives regime leaders going through US banks.
Maldives becoming an area of contestation, struck by the roles that India, China and the U.S now play in the Indian Ocean. Maldives seem to be a bit sandwiched there.
The U.S., however, seems to be looking more and more inwards, and it is unlikely that US will exert their power in the ocean. So, India remains in the best position to help Maldives to get out of the present crisis.
India must do to counter China’s troublesome, but obviously attractive, influence in South Asia.
India was the only country in the region, minus Bhutan, which didn’t join China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In the past, the Maldives became a middle-income country, primarily through development loans from the State Bank of India.
India has the ability to provide more sustainable loans for Indian Ocean countries, and that is where it has an edge.