The government of the Maldives has just declared a state of emergency for the next 15 days, as political tensions in the island nation are on the rise. Here’s the statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
The President H.E. Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has declared a State of Emergency, under Article 253 of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives, for the next 15 days.
During this time, though certain rights will be restricted, general movements, services and businesses will not be affected.
The Government of Maldives wishes to also assure all Maldivians and the international community that the safety of all Maldivians and foreigners living in and visiting the Maldives, will be ensured.
The Maldives last declared a state of emergency in November 2015, after an assassination attempt against their ex-president. That last state of emergency was declared just days before the opposition party was expected to protest, so clearly it was politically motivated.
Here’s what the state of emergency is about this time, according to Al Jazeera:
The Maldives plunged into political turmoil last week after the country’s top court threw out a “terrorism” conviction against its former president Mohamed Nasheed, and ordered the release of other jailed opposition politicians.
The ruling dealt a blow to Yameen with critics accusing him of corruption, misrule, and rights abuses. He denies the allegations.
The opposition now has a majority in the 85-member house as the Supreme Court ruling also reinstated 12 members of parliament who were stripped of their seats last year.
But two of the 12 were arrested at the airport on Sunday, shortly after they returned to the Maldives after spending months in exile.
I’m sure many are wondering if it’s still safe to travel to the Maldives. Several countries have issued travel warnings for the Maldives. For example, as noted by @Roar_Singh, India has advised nationals to defer all non-essential travels to Male and other atolls until further notice. This is something everyone has to decide for themselves.
Personally if I had a trip planned to the Maldives I wouldn’t change my plans. Are things completely safe? Well, I shared my thoughts on that last summer. While I personally feel comfortable traveling to the Maldives, I perceive it to be one of the less safe popular vacation destinations out there. As I said in my last post:
I’d like to think I’m not someone who travels in fear (well, other than my perfectly rational fear of monsters under my hotel bed). When my time comes my time comes, and that’s that. However, in the back of my mind I can’t help but think how easy it would be to take over one of these islands, and what a symbolic target this could be for terrorist groups, given how luxurious of a destination the Maldives is. I can’t think of many places that are more exposed and less prepared for such a situation.
Personally I still think it’s worth visiting the Maldives, and I don’t think it’s worth living in fear. Most of us drive every day, and that’s significantly more dangerous than just about anything else we do. This latest state of emergency wouldn’t make me feel any differently than before about visiting the Maldives.
What do you make of the Maldives’ state of emergency, and would you change your travel plans if you were scheduled to travel there?