Crisis in the Maldives exposes strategic importance of island chain

Crisis in the Maldives exposes strategic importance of island chain

It has been seven days since the Maldives’ top court ordered the government to reinstall ousted opposition MPs and release

Maldives crisis

Photo: Reuters

It has been seven days since the Maldives’ top court ordered the government to reinstall ousted opposition MPs and release political prisoners. But instead of complying, President Abdulla Yameen immersed the Indian Ocean archipelago in crisis mode by declaring a 15-day state of emergency and sending troops to arrest a former president (his half-brother).

In power since 2013, critics accuse Yameen of undermining democracy and cracking down on dissent by jailing opposition leaders. Under Yameen, Mohamed Nasheed — the country’s first democratically elected president — was imprisoned in 2015 on terrorism charges. Yameen recently sent security forces to blockade the Supreme Court building as well.

A career politician, Yameen has been highly criticised by Maldivians for allegations of corruption. He is widely suspected of making illegal financial deals with foreign companies in an effort to boost the Maldives much-valued tourism industry. Such critics point to his strong promotion of Chinese investment as the major source of these alleged illicit deals.

Yameen’s most recent actions point to an immediate fear for his own political security. Look to the extent that Yameen continues to take quasi-totalitarian actions to secure his political survival in an environment he perceives as threatening.

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