EU calls for lifting of emergency in Maldives

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Brussels, Feb 7 (IANS) With a political crisis raging in the Maldives, the European Union (EU) has called for the lifting of the state of emergency that President Abdulla Yameen has imposed in the country.

“The declaration of the state of emergency on February 5 by the President of the Maldives undermines democracy and human rights and further escalates political tensions in the country,” EU spokesperson Maja Kocijancic said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The European Union expects the state of emergency to be lifted without delay,” Kocijancic said.

She said that the decision to arrest two Supreme Court judges, including the Chief Justice, shows a clear disregard for the independence of the judiciary – fundamental in any democracy – as well as the Court’s ruling of February 1, which ordered the release of leading politicians and reinstated 12 members of parliament.

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“The arrest of former President Gayoom is an additional blow to the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of the Maldives,” the spokesperson said.

“The European Union continues to expect the authorities of the Maldives to abide by the ruling of the Supreme Court and allow the immediate resumption and normal functioning of the Parliament. An inclusive dialogue that engages the leaders of all political parties is needed in order to pave the way for credible, transparent and inclusive elections.”

Kocijancic said given the serious deterioration in the Maldives, “it is essential that all in the country, in particular law enforcement authorities, act with restraint”.

“Fundamental rights and freedoms of the population must be preserved, notably the freedom of expression and the right to peaceful demonstration,”.

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“The immediate return to constitutional normalcy is imperative so as to reduce the current tensions.”

The Indian Ocean archipelago nation has been hit by political turmoil ever since President Yameen refused to release high-profile political dissidents, including former President Mohammed Nasheed, in defiance of a February 1 apex court order, sparking protests.

On Monday, Yameen declared a 15-day state of emergency, and ordered the arrest of the Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and another judge, Ali Hameed.

India, China and Britain have issued travel warnings to their citizens.

Meanwhile, former President Nasheed, who is living in self-exile in Sri Lanka, has sought India’s help to resolve the crisis, saying Indians “are not occupiers but liberators”.

–IANS

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