Maldives warns India against interfering as ties fray

MALE • The Maldives has warned India against interfering in its political crisis, deepening a rift with the country once seen as its closest ally.

New Delhi has expressed concern about the situation in the honeymoon islands, whose President has sacked top judges, jailed political dissidents and imposed a state of emergency in recent weeks.

On Wednesday, it said it was "deeply dismayed" by the extension of emergency rule, earning an official rebuke from the Maldives foreign ministry.

"There is no doubt that the Maldives is experiencing one of the most difficult periods in the history of the nation," the ministry said in a statement late on Thursday.

"It is therefore important that friends and partners in the international community, including India, refrain from any actions that could hinder resolving the situation facing the country."

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen has jailed almost all his political opponents since coming to power in late 2013. The resulting fallout has dented the nation's image as a popular holiday destination.

The UN human rights chief has described the imposition of a state of emergency following a power struggle with the Supreme Court as "an all-out assault on democracy".

Exiled opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed has urged India to intervene militarily in the crisis - a request the government has not publicly addressed.

The Yameen regime has leaned heavily on China for political and financial support to build infrastructure in the nation.

Despite international criticism, legislators from Mr Yameen's party on Tuesday controversially approved a 30-day extension of emergency rule.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2018, with the headline 'Maldives warns India against interfering as ties fray'. Print Edition | Subscribe