Published: Sat, February 10, 2018

Indian scribe among two AFP reporters arrested in Maldives

Indian scribe among two AFP reporters arrested in Maldives

On Monday, emergency was declared in Maldives by President Abdulla Yameen after the Supreme Court ordered the release of opposition leaders.

The Maldives has plunged into a crisis with its President Abdullah Yameen declaring a state of Emergency and arresting the Chief Justice and former head of state. "That is surely not the way forward", it said in a post on Twitter. This high-profile crackdown followed the arrest of ex-president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, an estranged half-brother of Yameen.

The police did not give other details or name the journalists. He became president in 2013 after a contested election and since then the Maldives has continued to be buffeted by political crisis.

Located near key shipping lanes, the Maldives have assumed greater importance to China after it began building political and economic ties as part of its so-called "String Of Pearls" strategy to build a network of ports in the Indian Ocean region.

On Wednesday, China cautioned against any foreign meddling in the islands' internal affairs, after Maldives' opposition leaders called for intervention by its rival, India.

Responding to reports that Indian Special Forces were on standby for deployment in the Maldives to evacuate Indians, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said "non-interference in other countries is an important principle of worldwide relations".

India has traditionally held influence in the Indian Ocean atoll nation where China has been trying to make inroads because of the country's strategic location in the sea.

India has said it's monitoring the situation in the Maldives and has expressed concern about the state of emergency but little more.

The political drama has sparked concern in India+, which said last week in an unusually strong statement that it's "imperative" for the government to obey the Supreme Court.

Nasheed was in self-imposed exile overseas after travelling out of the islands on prison leave.

Late Wednesday, the U.S. urged Yameen, "the army, and police to comply with the rule of law, implement the Supreme Court's lawful ruling, ensure the full and proper functioning of the Parliament, and restore constitutionally guaranteed rights of the people and institutions of the Maldives", a state department spokesperson told PTI.

The Maldives police confirmed the arrests. But it has since avoided getting dragged into the island's politics. With Yameen's government expanding the Maldives' ties to China, the U.S. and Britain, and India somewhat more cautiously, have increasingly promoted Nasheed, first by securing his release from prison on medical grounds in 2015. Yameen, who has had nearly all the political opposition jailed since he came to power in 2013, is resisted mounting worldwide pressure over the crisis.

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