The state of emergency in trouble-torn Maldives was on Saturday extended by 30 days after a key parliamentary committee approved President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s request, a media report said, allowing him to reinforce his power in the picturesque Indian Ocean island nation.
During an extraordinary meeting of the National Security Committee of the People’s Majlis, approval was given to the Decree for State of Emergency submitted to the People’s Majlis (Parliament) by President Yameen, the Sun online reported.
Deputy Speaker of People’s Majlis, MP Moosa Manik confirmed the decree was approved by the Committee during its meeting held behind closed doors.
The Committee approved the decree as well as the request for a 30-day extension to the State of Emergency, the report said.
A total of 38 MPs voted to accept the decree and forward it to the National Security Committee for evaluation. All opposition MPs boycotted the sitting, alleging it was held unconstitutionally, the report said.
At least 43 MPs need to be present at the Majlis chamber in order for the decree to pass, the report said.
President Yameen declared the emergency on February 5 after the Supreme Court ordered the release of a group of Opposition leaders, who had been convicted in widely criticised trials. Among them was exiled ex-President Mohamed Nasheed. The court said his 2015 trial had been unconstitutional.
Under the emergency law, Yameen had two Supreme Court judges arrested, accusing them of corruption. Later, the remaining three judges annulled the order to release Yameen’s opponents.
On Sunday, the judges also delayed their earlier order to reinstate 12 pro-opposition lawmakers who were expelled after siding with the opposition. Yameen’s party would have lost a majority in Parliament had they been allowed to sit, AP reported.
There has been an international condemnation of the government’s moves, with the US and India expressing concern.
Nasheed has specifically appealed for diplomatic and military intervention from India.
On February 16, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said India had called on the government of Maldives to lift the state of emergency and restore the democratic process, including the functioning of the judiciary, which is “free of intimidation”.
“We have noticed that the Emergency in Maldives is valid for the next few days and we will wait to see the steps which will be taken by the government of Maldives after this,” Kumar had said.