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UN Security Council told Maldives crisis may get worse

February 09, 2018

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A senior UN official warned the Security Council on Thursday that the situation in the Maldives where the president has declared a state of emergency may deteriorate even further.

The top UN body met behind closed doors to discuss the crisis sparked by President Abdulla Yameen's decision to arrest judges who had ordered the release of his political opponents.

UN Assistant Secretary-General Miroslav Jenca told the top UN body that while there were no reports of violent clashes, “the situation in the Maldives is tense and may deteriorate even further,” according to UN sources.

It was the first time that the council discussed the crisis since it began on February 1, but there was no statement released after the meeting.

The crisis was triggered by a surprise Supreme Court decision to release from jail former president and opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed and eight other political prisoners.

Nasheed was in self-imposed exile abroad after travelling out of the islands on prison leave.

Four days after the court order, Yameen declared the state of emergency and ordered his security forces to the court to arrest the chief justice.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged Yameen to lift the state of emergency while UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has described Yameen's actions as “an all-out assault on democracy.”

Jenca this week spoke by phone with the Maldives foreign minister and asked him to release the chief justice urgently.

Jenca said the government must resolve the political crisis through all-party talks and offered UN assistance to facilitate those negotiations.

On Thursday, Yameen refused to meet with diplomats from the European Union, Germany and Britain.

Western governments, as well as neighbouring India and China, have asked their citizens not to go on holiday in the picturesque but troubled nation of coral islands.

TV network shuts down

A pro-opposition television network in the Maldives shut down on Friday following threats to its staff, as the government continued a clampdown on dissent that has sparked international concern.

Raajje TV said threats to its employees over their reporting on the political crisis in the picturesque Indian Ocean archipelago had forced it to suspend broadcasts.

“The broadcaster received threats from government legislators and others,” said opposition lawmaker Eva Abdulla.

The Maldives was plunged into crisis this week when President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency and ordered the arrest of judges who had ordered the release of his political opponents.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged Yameen to lift the state of emergency while UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has described Yameen's actions as “an all-out assault on democracy.”

On Thursday a top UN official warned the Security Council that the situation was tense and may deteriorate even further.

Street protests have so far been relatively muted, but opposition and ruling parties have called their supporters onto the streets for rallies after Friday prayers.

Yameen, who has had almost all the political opposition jailed since he came to power in 2013, is resisted mounting international pressure over the crisis.

On Thursday he refused to meet with diplomats from the European Union, Germany and Britain who had travelled to the honeymoon island nation for talks.

China, India and several Western governments have advised their citizens against travelling to the Maldives in the light of the latest unrest.