Maldivian Crisis

February 7, 2018

Maldivian Crisis and India Maldives Relations:


  1. Context:

    1. A state of emergency has been declared in Maldives followed with the arrest of Chief Justice of Supreme court Abdulla Saeed and former president Abdul Gayoom.

    2. Former president Mohamed Nasheed called for Indian military intervention for releasing dissidents.

  2.  Maldives Timeline:

    1. 1965 : Full independence as a sultanate outside Commonwealth.

    2. 1968 : Republic instated with Ibrahim Nasir as president. This marks the start of Gayoom era who succeeded Nasir in 1978.

    3. 1980 : Development of tourism leading to economic growth.

    4. 1988: Operation Cactus: Indian commandos foiled a coup by Sri Lankan mercenaries.

    5. 1998 : This started the era of Domestic dissent.

    6. 2003 : Anti-government riots break out in Male, sparked by death of 4 inmates.

    7. 2004: Gayoom promises constitutional changes to limit presidential term and allow formation of political parties.

    8. 2005 : Parliament votes unanimously to allow multi-party politics.

    9. 2008:  President Gayoom ratifies new constitution that paves the way for first multi-party presidential elections.
      Democracy begins

    10. 2008: Opposition leader Mohammed Nasheed defeats President Gayoom.

      1. Policies of Mohd. Nasheed:

        • Positive:

          • Maldives to become carbon neutral within a decade by switching to renewable energy.

          • Govt. will deregulate the state controlled media and ensure media freedom and competition.

        • Negative:

          • He had arrested Abdulla Mohammed, chief justice of the Criminal court.

      2. Opposition and stepping down:

        • Protests started by opposition leaders which was supported by rebel police officers and several dozen unarmed soldiers due to increasing food prices.

        • Earlier there were religious protests which demanded conservative policies in the Sunni Muslim nation.

        • Nasheed stepped down claiming that he doesn't want bloodshed. However, later he commented that he was forced at gunpoint by Army.

    11. 2013: Abdulla Yameen wins presidential election run-off. However, Supreme Court  had annulled the result and thus post result, Supreme court ordered six month jail sentence to 4 election commissioners for disobeying orders. Election commission criticized the Supreme court for annulling presidential election deemed free and fair by observers.

    12. 2014 : Maldives announces new law to end 61-year moratorium on capital punishment. The UN's human rights office expresses concern.

    13. 2015: Nasheed arrested on terrorism charges and subsequently jailed for 13 years.

    14. 2016 : Jailed former president Mohamed Nasheed is granted permission to travel to Britain for 30 days for spinal cord surgery from where he did not return and thus formed government in exile.

    15. 2018 : Supreme court ordered to free prisoners whose conviction it had quashed.



  1. India - Maldives relation:

    1. President Yameen in a interview had commented, " If Indian Army had not come to their rescue, we would have lost independence during the past 50 years."

    2. Maldives has pledges its support to India as a permanent member of expanded UNSC.

    3. Indian coast guard's Dornier was the first to land at the Ibrahim Nasir Airport with relief and supplies after the Tsunami of December 26, 2004.

    4. On December 2014, India dispatched "water aid" to the Maldivian capital of Male, after a fire destroyed the generator of its biggest water treatment plant.



  2. Postures towards Maldivian crisis:

    1. US, UK and EU:

      1. They have condemned the Yameen Government transgressions.

    2. India:

      1. India has been largely silent on the Maldivian crisis.

      2. However, in the recent context, India issued concern over the growing crisis but did not comment on Nasheed's appeal for military intervention.

    3. China:

      1. China has rejected foreign meddling in Male and urged the country to find its home grown solutions.

    4. Commonwealth Human Right Initiative: Report titled "Searching for a Lost Democracy"

      1. The survival of democracy itself is at stake in the Maldives.

      2. The government of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom “has curtailed human rights, democracy, and rule of law in violation of the Maldives Constitution, UN and Commonwealth standards.

      3. Urged the government to respect the principle of separation of powers and constitutionally protected human rights; cease assaults on civil society, journalists and activists through “repressive” laws and practices; ensure “impartiality and accountability” of the police; release all political prisoners; and rectify the “poor state” of the judiciary.

    5. Amnesty International in its Annual Report

      1. The government of the Maldives had failed to defend the independence of the Human Rights Commission in the country. It had also failed to address the issue of judicial impartiality, which remained a “serious concern.


  3. Problems in our relations:

    1. China Factor:

      1. Maldives is part of China's Silk road project.

      2. Former President Nasheed has more than once commented on pro-China tilt in Maldives. Which is enforced by the fact that China contribute to 30% of tourism of Maldives which is its main source of revenue.

      3. There were media reports that China was looking to establish a base in Maldives after leasing out one of the islands under the liberalised leasing scheme brought in by the Yameen Government, which was denied by both Male and Beijing.

    2. Political:

      1. India had assisted Maldives' election process by sending its observers, and had also withdrawn observers at one point because the electoral process was neither free nor fair.

    3. Economic:

      1. GMR Issues:       

        • Relations between India and Maldives came under a strain after Male had terminated the agreement it entered into with GMR in 2010 for the modernisation of the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.

        • The airport was taken over by the Maldives Airports Company Limited after a high-voltage legal tussle in which GMR. Maldives government maintains the reason for cancellation of the project was because "the contract was illegally awarded" by the then President Nasheed. The country's anti-graft watchdog has ruled out any corruption in the leasing of the international airport to GMR.

        • The airport expansion project was subsequently given to the Chinese company, which will plough in US $ 800 million. GMR, meanwhile, has won an arbitration against the Maldives.

        • The quantum of damages to be paid by the Maldives is yet to announced by the arbitration tribunal in Singapore.



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