Maldives: The case for freezing assets and imposing travel embargo on Yameen’s regime

The President of Maldives, Abdulla Yameen, has declared the State of emergency on Monday night and arrested the Chief Justice of Maldives Abdulla Saeed, another Supreme Court judge Justice Ali Hameed, Judicial administrator Hassan Saeed and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in midnight swoop. This follows the ruling of the Supreme Court last week asking the Government to release nine convicted opposition leaders including former President Mohamed Nasheed and to reinstate 12 Parliamentarians who were stripped of their seats last year, giving the opposition a majority in the 85-member house.

President Yameen has consistently abused judiciary to target the opposition. As judiciary acted against his wishes, he decided to lock them up.

The drastic action being taken by President Yameen is on the belief that China and Saudi Arabia will extend necessary support. The three-day visit of Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj to Saudi Arabia from today holds significance.

The case of the Maldives may not meet the criteria for the UN Security Council intervention. Even if the criteria were to be met, the UN Security Council is unlikely to make any impact: China is likely to veto. The resolutions of the other UN bodies including through Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council are perfunctory and will have no impact on the ground.

Appropriate actions are needed to send a message to the arrested judges, Members of Parliament and people of Maldives that international community is behind them and acting decisively.

The United States, European Union, India, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom etc must act decisively by immediately freezing assets of President Yameen, Attorney General Mohamed Anil, Prosecutor General Aishath Bisham, Chief of Defence Force Major General Ahmed Shiyam and Acting Commissioner of Police Abdulla Nawaz and impose international travel ban on them. Saudi Arabia, if necessary, should be asked to provide space to President Yameen to live in exile.

Decisive and timely action is the need of the hour. President Yameen must realise that his days are over and even a dictator like Parvez Musharraf of Pakistan had to flee after judges decided to overrule him. Locking up justices will not resolve the crisis, President Yameen must realise it only closes his options and he cannot cling on to power by locking up Chief Justice, former President and others.

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