Crisis Deepening in the Maldives

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen was elected in 2013, and is a member of the Maldivian Democratic Party. His half brother Maumoon Gayoom ruled the country prior to the nation’s first democratic elections in 2008.

The country’s first elected President Mohamed Nasheed was forced to resign in what amounted to a coup in 2012. The new government, representing interests fro the old regime, had him tried and convicted on terrorism charges.

However the nation’s Supreme Court threw out those charges last week. The court also ordered the release of other opposition lawmakers who were being held.

  • The government of Present Yameen declared that the Supreme Court’s ruling could not be enforced

  • The court reinstated 12 members of parliament who were removed from office. That would have given the opposition a majority in the legislature. However “two of the 12 were arrested at the airport on Sunday, shortly after they returned to the Maldives after spending months in exile.”

Soldiers in riot gear surrounded parliament on Sunday. The opposition has called for the international community to intervene. A state of emergency has been declared for the next 15 days. A state of emergency was also declared in 2015.

Tensions “could escalate to civil unrest and incite violence across the country”, they warned.

The United Nations, European Union, and several foreign governments – including India, the US and UK – have urged Yameen to comply with the Supreme Court’s order.

A spokesman for India’s Ministry of External Affairs is urging that country’s citizens to defer travel to the Maldives.

The forces currently in power do not want to do anything to disrupt tourism. In large measure the most powerful figures in their coalition also own many of the resorts. They represent the ‘old guard’ in the country.

Meanwhile the biggest threat that the opposition seeking foreign intervention has is that very disruption, although they too wish to take care of the nation’s tourism. They don’t want to come to power with the nation’s largest employer and source of funds hobbled.

Ultimately those interests are aligned. Resorts themselves are fairly remote and should avoid being a locus of protests. I expect tourism to be largely safe, but the situation is unpredictable and this wouldn’t be my preferred week to transit the Male airport. And it’s high season there. Meanwhile the U.S. government has not updated travel recommendations for the country.

Safety issues aside some might prefer to avoid the country, withholding tourism dollars, until this crisis is resolved.

Velana International Airport formerly known as Ibrahim Nasir International Airport

(HT: @Roar_Singh)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. ” Meanwhile the U.S. government has not updated travel recommendations for the country.” Well, does trump own a hotel or golf course in the maldives?

  2. I am glad I got to go there in 2011 before all this craziness started. I wouldn’t consider going there now. Every dollar spent there helps prop up that cronyist government that deposed the legitimately elected leader of the country. Plenty of other places in the world to go where such illegitimacy doesn’t exist.

  3. So you recommend deferring travel to there? I was planning to go there at the end of March to the Conrad. I am a US citizen.

  4. Just got back two weeks ago from a ten day trip to The Maldives staying st Gili Lankanfushi and Como Maalifushi. We did not sense any discord. However had we known about the political situation we would likely have not gone here.
    The Maldives are an amazing experience. It was heaven!

  5. Gary, it’s a shame that, based on several government’s urging Yameen to comply with the Maldivian supreme court’s ruling (including the US, UK, India, etc.), you wouldn’t suggest that your readers might want to cancel or at least delay any travel plans to the Maldives as a means of supporting the democratic will of their people. In addition, those who cancel might advise their travel agents and/or hotels why they are cancelling.

    You get very worked up about airlines mistreating a single passenger and put a lot of focus on these horrible incidents. Yet, you don’t seem to have the slightest concern about these bullies whose grip on power is being supported by a multitude of the international hotel companies. Duly elected Maldivians are being imprisoned unjustly, their supreme court’s ruling are being ignored and you don’t even suggest that this might want to concern your readers. I guess concerns of democratic principles are of little concern if we have our free nights at the Andaz, St. Regis or Conrad. Well, at least you were concerned about the Doctor on the United flight!

  6. We were in the Maldives during first coup , about 8 years back and it did not affect us in the resort.. Traveled from island Soneva Fushi by sea plane to airport and then international flight to depart . The airport is on a separate island to the town ( reached by ferry) and you do not need to go into town from resorts islands . All trouble is in town of Male .

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