8 February 2018

 Maldives sends special envoys to friendly nations, China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, to provide updates on the current situation, after the declaration of the emergency rule. On Wednesday, the Minister of Economic Development, Mohamed Saeed, left for China, while the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Mohamed Asim, went to Pakistan. Dr Mohamed Shainee, the Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, is scheduled to leave for Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

 “India was in fact the first stop planned and proposed for a visit of a special envoy of the president of Maldives. However, the dates proposed were not suitable for the Indian leadership,” Maldivian envoy Ahmed Mohamed told news agency PTI. Maldives also left out the United States, Britain and the United Nation.

 China and Saudi Arabia are considered close allies as they have made heavy investments in the Maldives. Pakistan is included as an antagonist of India amid fears that India might intervene in the current situation.

 After three decades of autocratic rule of former strongman and Yameen’s half-brother Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the country became a multiparty democracy. Now it is under military rule. Opposition leaders across the Maldives are being rounded up and placed under detention.

 Article 145 (c) of the Constitution  states that the Supreme Court shall be the final authority on the interpretation of the Constitution, the law, or any other matter dealt with by a court of law. Maldives Police Service today held a press conference to disclose  the charges against those who were arrested.

 Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom who was arrested on 5th February was charged with bribing Members of Parliament and attempting to overthrow a legitimate government, influencing Judges by offering them money, as bribes, to ensure desired verdicts and attempting to influence the security forces and planning and inciting them to work against the government. Maldives Times reported.

 Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed was arrested on 6th February and is charged with accepting bribes and delivering verdicts in special interest; using the influence of the office to attempt the overthrow of a legal, constitutional, administration and attempting to influence the administration and wilful, and unlawful, interference of the criminal justice system. The detained Chief Justice on Wednesday, denying the allegations, said that the allegations had no legal basis.

Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed Mohamed was arrested on 6th February and is charged with the same offences as the Chief Justice.

 Judicial Administrator at the Department of Judicial Administration Hassan Saeed was arrested on 5th February and is charged with unlawful interference with the Judiciary and profiting from bribes.

 Maldives Police Service has stated that they have confiscated millions from Justice Ali Hameed and Hassan Saeed the head of Department of Judicial Administration.

 In a press conference held today the acting CP Abdullah Nawaz said that they confiscated millions from Justice Ali Hameed and Hassan Saeed the head of Department of Judicial Administration. They fond money under Hassan Saeed’s bed. However he did not reveal where they found Ali Hameed’s money. Miadhu reported.

 Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) has warned media of consequences of reporting that ‘devalues security forces’ and ‘create discord’ in the society.

 Times of India reported that Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed was warned he would be “cut into pieces” if he did not overturn a court order quashing convictions against high-profile political dissidents; citing his lawyer, Hisaan Hussain. The Chief Justice was given access to his lawyers about 12 hours after his arrest.

 The Washington Post reported that the government of the Maldives has invited representatives of foreign governments and international organizations to visit the country so that they can assess the situation in the country and its level of safety and security. It also said that the turmoil was confined to the capital city which is far away from the resorts. Hence the tourism is not affected by the turmoil.

 In apparent contradiction,  president Abdulla Yameen snubbed the  envoys from Britain, the European Union and Germany by refusing to meet them. They  were the first foreign dignitaries to visit the country since his crackdown on the islands’ judiciary.

 Former Attorney General of the Maldives and President of Maldives Bar Association Husnu Al Suood said on Thursday that the judges at the apex court were working under political pressure. Suood told ANI from Male, “I believe the top court has been compromised. Orders issued by the top court after the arrest of Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed indicate that the rest of the judges are under political pressure”.

 Dhiggaru MP Faris Maumoon has been arrested again Thursday evening on the same bribery charges he has pending, his lawyer, Ali Zahir said. The Dhiggaru lawmaker was released from custody Tuesday morning, after the Criminal Court judges unanimously overturned MP Faris’ remand Monday night and ordered his immediate release, along with the release of other nine political prisoners.

 The U.N. human rights chief has called the declaration of a state of emergency in the Maldives and the resulting suspension of constitutional guarantees an “all-out assault on democracy.”

 The U.S. State Department said since his 2013 election, Yameen had “systematically alienated his coalition, jailed or exiled every major opposition political figure, deprived elected Members of Parliament of their right to represent their voters in the legislature, revised laws to erode human rights, especially freedom of expression, and weakened the institutions of government by firing any officials who refuse orders that run contrary to Maldivian law and its Constitution.”

 Since he came to power, President Yameen has aligned with China and Saudi Arabia in order to get them to invest in the Maldives. China is funding and building mega infrastructure projects, including the Friendship Bridge linking Male to Hulhule Island and a 1,000-apartment housing project on Hulhumale, a suburb built on reclaimed land.

 China extended loans totaling 8 billions of dollars for infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka could not repay the debts and agreed to hand over Hambantota port to China on a 99-year lease. Similarly Pakistan is left with a debt of $90 billion and had handed over the Gwadar port to China for a period of 40 years.

 Some analysts say that Maldives will also fall into a debt trap which will enable China to own valuable assets in the Maldives.

 Saudi Arabia is expected to invest some $10 billion in infrastructure projects. This may include sale of Faafu atoll to the Saudi royal family. Much of the development will take place in the reclaimed land in this atoll. Planned visit by Saudi King Salman was cancelled because of protests in Maldives over the kingdom’s plan for investments.

 The biggest chunk of the Saudi investment will go on the planned upgrade to Velana International Airport, where a $357 million contract has been awarded to the Saudi Binladin contracting group.

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