Published: Sat, February 10, 2018
World | By Melba Underwood

Amid political crisis, 1 Indian among 2 journos detained in Maldives

Amid political crisis, 1 Indian among 2 journos detained in Maldives

China is in touch with India to discuss a way to resolve the political crisis in the Maldives and does not want the issue to become another "flashpoint" between the two neighbours, Chinese officials with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The UN Security Council too met to discuss the Maldives situation.

Supporters of political parties that oppose the Maldives government have clashed with police on the streets of the capital after the country's supreme court ordered the release of imprisoned politicians.

The state of emergency, which allows a government to perform actions normally not permitted, was declared on February 5 in response to a Supreme Court order to release and retry nine political leaders, and to reinstate 12 suspended opposition parliamentarians.

Yameen has cracked down on civil liberties since coming to power in 2013, imprisoning or forcing into exile almost every politician who opposes him.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry in Jerusalem is warning Israeli citizens against traveling to the Maldives during Passover due to the political crisis in the island country. Tourism now dominates the economy, with wealthy foreigners flown to hyper-expensive resort islands.

"Beijing is ready to work with India to resolve the political crisis in Maldives, " the sources said.

At stake for China is the free trade agreement it has signed with the Maldives, which has been criticised by opposition leaders in Male.

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India, which has historically had greater clout in the islands, located near key shipping lanes, has sought to push back against China's growing influence.

Not India first? Maldives sends its first envoys to explain Emergency declaration to "friendly nations" China, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan. The others are Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government have, for their part, kept their cards close to their vests.

He was responding to questions on the current situation in Maldives.

Mr Ahmed Mohamed, the Maldives' ambassador to India, said the government had wanted to send a special envoy to India as well, but the dates were not suitable for the Indian Foreign Ministry.

Indian government sources confirmed that a request had been made for a special envoy's visit on February 7 but had to be cancelled.

The island nation is now under a state of emergency, which gives the security forces sweeping powers to arrest people.

"The US calls on president Yameen, the army, and police to comply with the rule of law, implement the Supreme Court's lawful ruling, ensure the full and proper functioning of the Parliament, and restore constitutionally guaranteed rights of the people and institutions of Maldives", a State Department spokesperson told PTI. Saeed was warned he would be "cut into pieces" if he did not overturn the court order, the lawyer said.

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