Maldives lifts state of emergency

Maldives lifts state of emergency
November 10 17:01 2015

President Abdulla Yameen has lifted an unprecedented 30-day nationwide state of emergency after just six days, citing progress made by the police in investigating threats posed by missing weapons and explosives.

Attorney General Mohamed Anil said the state of emergency has been lifted as of 5:00pm today.

“Some people planning to use dangerous weapons and explosives have now been arrested,” he said.

The security services have informed the president that special measures have been taken to ensure public safety, Anil said, adding that the president believes restoring constitutional rights and returning to normalcy is important.

He also acknowledged that “many parties from the international community have called for an end to the state of emergency as soon as possible,”

The government also wanted to minimise the adverse affects on the Maldivian economy and the vital tourism industry, Anil said.

Yameen issued the state of emergency decree last Wednesday, granting police sweeping powers to arrest suspects and carry out raids without court warrants. Several fundamental rights, including the constitutional right to freedom of assembly, were suspended days before a mass protest planned by the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party.

International human rights groups as well as the UK, the US, the EU, and the Commonwealth had questioned the government’s justification for the state of emergency and urged it to restore constitutional rights.

The MDP welcomed the end to the state of emergency today: “the MDP believes President Yameen’s decision to declare it in the first place was purely political: to prevent a mass anti-government protest and to unlawfully impeach the Vice President.”

The opposition party called for Yameen’s resignation, stating: “This State of Emergency has caused irreversible damage to the tourism industry during high season, to the reputation of the country and diplomatic relationships with our friends in the region.

“Yameen’s increasingly erratic, paranoid and dangerous behaviour is damaging the country and proves he is unfit to be President. He has failed and should step down.”

The emergency decree had shortened a constitutionally-mandated period for Vice President Ahmed Adeeb to answer impeachment charges from 14 days to seven days.

The parliament impeached Adeeb a day after the state of emergency was declared. His lawyers maintain that the impeachment vote was unconstitutional as Adeeb was not provided an opportunity to speak in his defence.

Adeeb is under police custody on suspicion of links to a blast on the president’s speedboat on September 28. The government says a bomb targeting President Abdulla Yameen caused the explosion. Yameen escaped unhurt.

Several prominent lawyers as well as the MDP also contended that the president did not have the power to reduce the 14-day notice period through an executive decree.

Shortly before the AG’s announcement, Assistant Commissioner Abdulla Nawaz told the press that the police have arrested suspects in connection to an improvised explosive device found near the official presidential residence on November 2.

Nawaz said the police had raided a home in the investigation and gathered important evidence.

Several buildings have been searched during the past week, he added.

Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon had told the AP yesterday that she was confident the state of emergency would be lifted soon.

“I think from the information I have from the defence and others, we hopefully will be able to attend to this very quickly in the coming days and we hope to see the revoking of the situation,” she said.

In a tweet today, Dunya said the “security forces have done a fantastic job over the last week.”