Maldives declares 30-day state of emergency

The Maldives' Foreign Minister urged tourists to go ahead with their holidays, saying that the country is peaceful.
The Maldives' Foreign Minister urged tourists to go ahead with their holidays, saying that the country is peaceful.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MALE • The Maldives declared a state of emergency yesterday as President Abdulla Yameen sought to shore up his power in the Indian Ocean island nation, following a suspected assassination attempt.

Citing a threat to national security, the Foreign Ministry announced on its official Twitter feed that emergency rule would remain in force for 30 days.

The authorities acted after discovering explosive devices near Mr Yameen's official residence and the main mosque in the capital Male, as well as stashes of weapons believed to have been stolen from army stores.

"Because these would be a threat to the public and the nation, the National Security Council advised taking immediate steps to protect the people of Maldives," Attorney-General Mohamed Anil said in a live televised address.

The imposition of emergency rule came two days before a demonstration planned by the main opposition party, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

The MDP had planned the protest tomorrow to demand the release of former president Mohamed Nasheed, who was jailed in March for 13 years for terrorism in a trial that drew international criticism.

The string of tropical islands, home to 400,000 people and a favourite of tourists, has been in turmoil since a Sept 28 blast on board Mr Yameen's launch. He was unhurt but his wife and two aides were injured in the explosion, which the government quickly concluded was an attempt on his life.

Senior ministers told Reuters the government would make use of limited powers only to restrict the right of assembly. There would be no curfew or arbitrary detention.

"Please go ahead with your holidays - the Maldives is a peaceful country," Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon told Reuters. "There has never been a major incident targeting tourists."

A Western diplomat in Colombo said European Union members may consider a travel advisory after the order, which comes just before the peak tourism season. A record 1.2 million tourists visited the country last year, and accounted for 29 per cent of its economy.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 05, 2015, with the headline 'Maldives declares 30-day state of emergency'. Print Edition | Subscribe