India said Wednesday it was deeply dismayed the Maldives had extended a state of emergency, after previously saying it was their expectation the government would not do this.
Ties between the two countries have been in the spotlight since the Maldives signed a massive free trade deal with China, and relations have become strained in recent months through a combination of snubs, suspensions, tweets and editorials.
“We are deeply dismayed that the government of Maldives has extended the state of emergency for a further 30 days. The manner in which the extension… was approved by the Majlis (parliament) in contravention of the constitution is also a matter of concern,” said the Ministry of External Affairs.
“The consequent delay in the resumption of the political process and the continuing suspension of the functioning of democratic institutions including the judiciary is likely to further delay restoration of normalcy in Maldives.”
President Abdulla Yameen said he declared a state of emergency in order to investigate an alleged plot to overthrow his government. It followed a landmark ruling from the Supreme Court that ordered the release of prisoners, who are also Yameen’s opponents, including former president Mohamed Nasheed.
Only 38 MPs were present for Tuesday’s crucial vote, which took place hours before the state of emergency was due to expire, despite 43 lawmakers being needed for the vote to take place as required by the constitution. All 38 were from the ruling party and all 38 approved the extension.
Opposition lawmakers had boycotted the vote, and the debate on Monday about the state of emergency and Yameen’s extension request, to prevent the vote from happening. But the extension was approved anyway.
The US called on Yameen to end the state of emergency and uphold the rule of law.
The State Department said Yameen should “permit the full and proper functioning of the Parliament and the judiciary, restore constitutionally guaranteed rights of the people of Maldives, and respect Maldives’ international human rights obligations and commitments.”
UK politicians discussed the state of emergency in parliament.
Hugo Swire MP asked the government if it would head a mission to the Maldives, or encourage the United Nations to do so, given the presence of thousands of British holidaymakers there and the potential to bring “China and India into an unwelcome regional conflict.”
Minister Mark Field said the suggestions would be taken into consideration and added that he, too, was “deeply troubled” by recent events in the troubled honeymoon destination.
The state of emergency ends on March 22.
Photo: Auf Majeed