The Maldives has two faces. To the outsider, it is a tropical paradise. To the common Maldive citizen, the place is hell with no democracy and a country where the government brutally subdues any kind of dissent. The newest set of problems set to put the country into chaos have international ramifications as well. It is on the way to suck in both China and India.
Start of the crisis
The present mess began at the start of February when the Supreme Court of Maldives took the decision to cancel all sentences against nine opposition figures forced into exile or put in prison by incumbent President Abdulla Yameen. Mohamed Nasheed, the former president who won the election but were overthrown by the authoritarian Yameen.
The ruling of the court was not accepted by President Yameen. He declared an emergency and ordered that two of the five judges who gave the judgment be arrested. Also put into incarceration were a number of opposition members. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the president's half brother and who is 80 years old, was also thrown into jail. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom administered the country for about 30 years.
These troubles are nothing new to the archipelago nation that is in real danger of drowning in the sea due to global warming. Many years before, India sent in paratroopers to extinguish any coup attempt. The present scenario is not that simple. The Yameed-led Maldivian Government has made conjugal relations with Saudi Arabia and China, thus challenging Indian hegemony in the Indian Ocean.
India was asked to step in by Nasheed this time around as well. Yameen sent emissaries to Pakistan, China, and Saudi Arabia. The latter, however, did not get the response he wanted. The United States and the United Nations roundly criticized the artificial emergency being pushed on the island state. The present Government of Maldives is now effectively cornered. This does not mean Gayoom will go easily. The security forces continue to remain loyal to him. Nasheed also has his own following in the government machinery. The incumbent president knows full well where he will end up in case Nashed becomes the head of government. He would not want such a fate and naturally, the whole thing could turn to be a dangerous proxy struggle. The only way this crisis can be blown over is by the holding of elections during the latter part of 2018.