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Maldives

The Maldives is facing a critical juncture, as civil unrest grows, and the government of President Abdulla Yameen continues to lose support. Since coming to power in 2013, Yameen has enacted a series of increasingly draconian laws, changes which have led to widespread political and public opposition. 

 
 
The Maldives legalised criminal defamation on Tuesday in a move the opposition said was aimed at stifling dissent in the Indian Ocean archipelago and which was criticised by the UN and the US. Best known as a paradise for wealthy tourists, Maldives has been mired in political unrest since Mohamed Nasheed, its first democratically elected leader, was ousted in disputed circumstances in 2012.
 

The Maldives brushed off warnings from Western governments Monday that a new defamation bill risked undermining basic freedoms on the troubled honeymoon islands, accusing its critics of hypocrisy.

 
In 2008, the Maldives had emerged as a beacon of democratic hope across the globe. A fledgling democracy had started taking baby steps in Asia’s longest-running dictatorship. But, what was once the world’s most secular Sunni Muslim nation is today being driven towards hard-line Islam by its controversial and increasingly autocratic President, writes Sumon K. Chakrabarti.  
 

Hundreds of men and women stand on the side of the road waving placards under the hot sun. Police and military are nearby, watching. I’m in Male, the capital of the Maldives and standing in the middle of a protest.

 
Mohamed Asim, till recently Maldives’ High Commissioner to Bangladesh, has been appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. In September last year, Dr. Asim was made the High Commissioner.  In 1982, he joined the government service and served as his country's envoy to Pakistan and the United Kingdom during 2004-2008. He succeeds Dunya Maumoon, who resigned from the Cabinet last week, citing opposition to the government’s plans to implement the death penalty.   
 

As the strategically important Indian Ocean archipelago of the Maldives continues its descent into political anarchy with democratic institutions facing an unabated onslaught under the authoritarian regime of President Abdulla Yameen, India can no longer afford to be a mere spectator.

 

A court in the Maldives has barred a group of journalists from working for their newly formed media organization for two years, threatening its closure in a move they criticized as an assault on media freedom in the archipelago nation.

 
 
India can play much bigger role in Maldives, according to Maldives United Opposition’s shadow foreign minister Ahmed Naseem. Participating in an interaction at Observer Research Foundation here today, Mr Naseem, who was a foreign minister in the Nasheed government, sought more active Indian role in bringing back Maldives’ democracy on track.  
 

The Maldives government plans to conduct de-radicalization and awareness programs aimed at stopping its citizens from being attracted by foreign Islamist extremist groups, according to its first policy paper on terrorism released Thursday.

 


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