Yameen sends envoys to China, Saudi for support | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 09, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 09, 2018

Maldives Political Crisis

Yameen sends envoys to China, Saudi for support

Shuns European diplomats as UNSC to host meeting on crisis

The embattled president of the Maldives has sent envoys to friendly nations such as China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to brief them on a political crisis in the Indian Ocean nation that spurred the imposition of a state of emergency, his office said.

Abdulla Yameen left out key regional power India, which had joined Britain, the United States and the United Nations in calling for the lifting of the emergency and the freeing of two supreme court judges whose ruling against Yameen sparked new instability.

The Maldives, best known for luxury tourist resorts, has become another arena of contest for India and China after it signed up to Beijing's Belt and Road initiative to build trade and transport links across Asia and beyond.

India, which has had longstanding political and security ties to the islands about 400 km away, has sought to push back against China's expanding presence in the country of 400,000 people, most of them Muslims. Since the crisis erupted, Maldivian opposition leaders have urged New Delhi to intervene.

Yameen sent his economic development minister, Mohamed Saeed, to China, the foreign minister, Mohamed Asim, to Pakistan and farming and fisheries minister Mohamed Shainee to Saudi Arabia, according to a posting on his website late on Wednesday.

"Members of the cabinet, on the direction of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, will visit friendly nations of the Maldives and provide updates on the current situation," it added.

The government wanted to send a special envoy to India as well, but the dates were not suitable for the Indian foreign ministry, said Ahmed Mohamed, the Maldives' ambassador to India.

The Maldives has been in crisis since last week, when the Supreme Court quashed convictions ranging from corruption to terrorism of nine opposition figures, including former president Mohamed Nasheed, its first democratically elected leader.

Tension came to a head when Yameen's government rejected the ruling, imposed the emergency for 15 days on Monday and then arrested the chief justice and another judge of the court, reported Reuters.

A delegation of diplomats from Britain, the European Union and Germany, was denied a meeting with Yameen and his cabinet colleagues, the German embassy in Sri Lanka said yesterday.

"Our requests were unfortunately refused. That is surely not the way forward," it said in a post on social network Twitter.

UNSC TO DISCUSS CRISIS

The UN Security Council was yesterday set to discuss the crisis in the Maldives after the president declared a state of emergency in the Indian Ocean island, diplomats said.

During a closed-door meeting, the council will hear a report by the UN political affairs department, which asked the top UN body to take up the matter, diplomats said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday urged the government of the Maldives to lift the state of emergency imposed by President Abdulla Yameen whose security forces stormed the supreme court, reported AFP.

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein on Wednesday accused Yameen of trying to destroy democracy.

"The suspension of several functions of the judiciary and Parliament, and the restrictions on a series of constitutional rights, create a dangerous concentration of power in the hands of the president," said Zeid.

"What is happening now is tantamount to an all-out assault on democracy."

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