Last week, the Maldives Supreme Court ordered the release of several imprisoned opposition lawmakers ruling that their trials were politically motivated. President Abdulla Yameen refused to comply with the decision. He imposed a state of emergency for a period of 15 days. This gave him absolute powers to send security forces into the Supreme Court building on Monday.
Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Judge Ali Hameed were both arrested in the early hours of Tuesday. The charges were not specified at that time. Later, they were charged with bribery and insinuation against government. After that, Yameen’s estranged half-brother, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom got the detention.
How has the world reacted?
Envoys of Maldives President first chose India for visit. The meeting could not happen as Indian leaders were not available. Later, President Yameen announced his decision to send envoys to China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
China officially continues to maintain that there should not be any external interference and India should not send its deployment.
The U.S. and the U.K. have both urged Yameen to honor the rule of law and free the detainees.
Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN) human rights chief also became active. He warned that Yameen’s state of emergency decree, was undermining the checks and balances necessary in any functioning democracy.
India vs China
China officially continues to maintain that there should not be any external interference specially in the light of reports of India’s special forces ready for deployment. Meanwhile, Chinese official sources said that China doesn’t want Maldives to become another “flash point”.
However, the relationship between India and Maldives became sour when Modi dropped the plan to visit Maldives. In March 2015, Modi was on a historic tour of neighboring countries. He dropped the plan and did not cite the cause. Yameen did not like the ignoring attitude of Indian Prime Minister.
China is building on the crumbling relationship of India and Maldives. It wants the World to respect the Sovereignty of Maldives and do not interfere on their internal matters. The stand was quite strange as on one side, China doesn’t want Maldives to become another “flash point” and on other side, taking such stand when India is planning to deploy troops. Although everything is not well between India and China.
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India must take stock, understand the game China is playing in Maldives, and not rule out military intervention from its basket of tools to mitigate a tricky situation in our neighborhood. Any hesitation at this point will result in India permanently ceding crucial strategic space to China. We cannot afford to have a Chinese vassal state in our backyard.