The Maldives, the collection of small atoll islands that are a worldwide tourism favourite with westerners, looks ready for ‘coup d’êtat’ today after security forces sealed off the parliament and arrested all major opposition leaders in a deepening crisis between politicians and President Abdulla Yameen.
The move comes after the country’s Supreme Court surprisingly decided to release a group of political prisoners. The current President Abdulla Yameen thus sees his political rival, Mohammed Nasheed, return from imprisonment and wanting to run against him in an otherwise unopposed election: “I can contest and I will contest and hopefully we will win it again.”
<blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Breaking news: Maldives military blocks parliament <a href="https://t.co/Xw8xUQaKoC">pic.twitter.com/Xw8xUQaKoC</a></p>— Luke (@Lucasjalyl) <a href="https://twitter.com/Lucasjalyl/status/960045012774895616?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 4, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Clashes broke out after President Yameen had fired the country’s police chief earlier this week, as his department had announced it would uphold the supreme court verdict.
The US ambassador to the Maldives, Mr Atul Keshap welcomed the supreme court order whilst calling for calm from everyone: “I urge the government and security services to respect this ruling, which bolsters democracy and rule of law for all Maldivians.”
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With 400,000 citizens and strategically importantly placed between India and Africa, the major powers in the region have been drawing and pulling all possible strings to get influence over who rules the Maldives.
Whilst India has very long standing political and security ties to the islands, China opened an embassy in 2011 and has been offering technical and financial assistance to build infrastructure to the government.