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Maldives rebukes India’s ‘unhelpful’ call to release prisoners

India called on the Maldivian authorities to “to implement the Supreme Court’s Full Bench order of 1 February 2018 and to support a genuine political dialogue with all opposition parties.”



The Maldives has flatly rejected calls from India to execute a Supreme Court order for the release and retrial of nine prisoners.

Welcoming the revocation of a 45-day state of emergency on Thursday, the Indian external affairs ministry said concerns expressed by the international community “still remain to be addressed” in order to restore the independence and proper functioning of the judiciary and legislature.

India called on the authorities to “to implement the Supreme Court’s Full Bench order of 1 February 2018 and to support a genuine political dialogue with all opposition parties,” stressing the importance of “credible restoration of the political process, as well as the rule of law, before the elections are announced this year.”

The EU delegation to the Maldives echoed the call to release political prisoners and urged the government to “stop interfering in the work of the Majlis and the judiciary.” Despite the end of emergency rule, “politically motivated prosecutions continue, and many citizens remain in jail for exercising their fundamental rights,” tweeted the US ambassador.

In its response to India, the Maldivian government reiterated that the unanimous Supreme Court order was “nullified” by a three-judge bench on February 6, a day after the security forces stormed the court and arrested two of the five justices who signed the order, including the Maldives chief justice.

The administration contends the February 1 ruling – which effectively reinstated an opposition parliament majority and freed Yameen’s jailed opponents ahead of elections in September – triggered a constitutional crisis and set in motion a failed coup d’etat.

“The Government of Maldives firmly believes that the recent political developments is an internal political matter and therefore should remain as a matter to be resolved internally,” reads the foreign ministry statement.

“Furthermore, the Government of Maldives wishes to reiterate that public statements made without genuine regard to facts and ground realities of the situation in the Maldives are not helpful at all to ensure a stable, peaceful and prosperous Maldives that meets the aspirations of its citizens.”

The Maldives previously took the extraordinary step of directly rebuking New Delhi after it expressed “deep dismay” about the parliament’s extension of the state of emergency last month. More recently, India was told to stay away from the political crisis, which was called an internal matter like Kashmir.

The second state of emergency declared during Yameen’s tenure was lifted after 11 high-profile detainees – including former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, four lawmakers and the ex-police chief – were charged with terrorism and bribery over the alleged coup plot.