Maldives vows to lift SOE after nullifying 'national security threat'

Maldives government on Monday responded to the European Union (EU) calls to immediately lift the state of emergency by insisting that it would only lift the emergency state as soon as threats posed to national security are nullified.

The island nation has been embroiled in fresh political turmoil after the Supreme Court on February 1 ordered the immediate release of jailed political leaders including self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed.

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on February 5 had declared a 15 day state of emergency after his last ditch attempt to convince the top court to revoke the order failed, purged the Supreme Court by arresting two judges and the remaining political leaders and ultimately had the order revoked.

As the state of emergency expired on Tuesday, president Yameen had got the parliament contentiously extend it by another 30 days

The Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union (EU) on Monday adopted a series of conclusions on the Maldives, in light of the recent deterioration of the situation in the island nation.

As expected, the council adopted a seven point conclusion which included a call to Maldivian institutions to immediately lift the State of Emergency and restore all constitutionally guaranteed rights.

The Council also condemned politically motivated arrests and called for the immediate release of all political prisoners.

"The Council also condemns any interference with the work of the Supreme Court of the Maldives and actions taken against the judiciary and the judges."

The council further expressed concern over the possible impact of the current situation also on the
security of foreign residents and visitors, including tourists.

"The current situation is not in accordance with the principles of democratic rule and
separation of powers," the council said.

"If the situation does not improve, the Council may therefore consider targeted measures."

The council also called on the government to engage with the opposition in genuine dialogue that paves the way for credible, transparent and inclusive presidential elections later this year adding that the EU was ready to support the United Nations (UN) to facilitate such dialogue.

In response to the council's conclusions, Maldives foreign ministry in a statement insisted that the measures taken by the government was to ensure national security and constitutional order, to uphold the rule of law and to safeguard the peace and stability of the nation.

The statement also noted that since the Supreme Court has now rescinded most of its order on February 1, there was no longer a legal mandate for the government to implement the original top court order.

The ministry further stressed that when the parliament had extended the state of emergency it lifted some of the restrictions imposed on the constitutional articles and declared that it would only be applied only to individuals alleged to have carried out illegal activities in connection to the February 1 Supreme Court order.

"The Government will ensure that the State of Emergency is lifted as soon as the threats posed to national security are addressed satisfactorily," the statement stressed.

Responding to concerns over the safety of tourists, the statement reiterated its unwavering commitment to ensuring the safety and security of foreign nationals residing in the country, as well as tourists visiting the Maldives.

The government also pointed out its efforts for dialogue saying that it had already invited all political parties for talks.

"The Government of Maldives appreciates the European Union for standing with the Maldives during this difficult period and calls to help facilitate the ongoing efforts to resolve the current Constitutional Crisis, and to return to normalcy. "