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The Maldives Has Ended The Craziest State Of Emergency You Never Heard Of

The state of emergency was lifted early Tuesday after progress was made in the investigation into an attempted assassination on the president, according to the BBC.

Originally posted on
Updated on

In September, a blast struck a boat carrying President Abdullah Yameen of the Maldives and his wife while the couple were returning home from the airport.

The Maldives labeled it "an act of terror," and immediately began conducting raids on islands throughout the country. The military detained an army colonel who was put in charge of security of the president and an officer who served as the bodyguard for the vice president. Two other soldiers were also arrested and accused of tampering with the evidence after the explosion. In mid-October, the government sacked its defense minister. A week later, the vice president was arrested in connection with the explosion and charged with treason.

Two of the eight suspects wanted in connection with the explosion were located abroad — one of them was arrested in Sri Lanka, and the other was extradited by the Malaysian government.

Yameen's administration asked the FBI, in addition to investigators from Australia and India, to look into the blast. The FBI, after a thorough analysis, said it found no evidence that a blast was caused by a bomb. But the Maldivian government said the outcome of FBI's analysis was contrary to other investigations.

Last week, the Maldives police arrested seven more people after they said they had discovered a cache of weapons hidden on the sea bed of a remote island.

President Yameen declared a state of emergency for 30 days on the grounds that there was a threat to the citizens of the country and its national security.

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The presidential decree suspended all basic rights and gave security forces sweeping powers to make arrests ahead of a major opposition rally planned by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), the party of former President Mohammed Nasheed.

The state of emergency was lifted early Tuesday after "important progress" was made in the investigation of the blast, according to the BBC.

In recent years, there have been concerns over a growing traction for hardline Islamism in the country, and a handful of Maldivians have been reported to have joined the war in Syria. But some critics say the government is deliberately fueling Islamic extremism for its own political gains.

The day after the decree, the Maldivian parliament announced that it would impeach the arrested vice president.

BREAKING: Maldives parliament impeaches vice president accused of plotting to kill president

President Yameen is the half-brother of this man — Mamoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the country for 30 years, winning six consecutive elections without any opposition.

Although Gayoom's rule is credited for bringing a period of stability in the Maldives that helped flourish tourism and development in the country, he was also highly controversial and accused of ruling with an iron fist.

Gayoom was defeated in the presidential election in 2008 by Mohammed Nasheed.

Nasheed, a former journalist, won a historic election for the MDP and became the first democratically elected president of the Maldives.

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Three years later, Nasheed resigned publicly in a television address — he later said he was forced out by a military coup — and his vice president was put in charge.

Nasheed was subsequently arrested, drawing wide international condemnation. In 2013, the country held a new presidential election — Nasheed contested but lost in the run-off vote — the results of which were plagued by controversy.

In the end, Abdullah Yameen took office. Since then, Yameen has been criticized for framing and imprisoning his political opponents, but he has denied such allegations, saying his government has no vendettas against any of his opponents.

In March, Nasheed was sentenced in prison for 13 years after being declared guilty of terrorism charges. A video of him being dragged by security forces to the court outraged his supporters.

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Ongoing unrest in the country threatens to damage its economy, which relies heavily on tourism. Nearly a million visitors come to the Maldives every year, a number higher than its own population.

The country's tourism body said the state of emergency would not affect visitors who come to the island or domestic transportation and departures.

"We are saying that there is no danger to resorts or the airport. We are telling them that there's no danger in travelling to and from the Maldives," the Maldives' tourism minister said, according to local newspaper Haveeru.

Amid growing international condemnation of the state of emergency, the U.S. and Britain intensified calls to end it and restore constitutional freedoms to the Maldives' citizens.

UPDATE

This story has been updated to change an earlier version that said Mohammed Nasheed was in prison when the 2013 elections were announced.

Anup Kaphle is a deputy world editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London. His secure PGP fingerprint is AA69 A7F0 91A0 8CF9 F06A 8343 05EE 4615 8CD5 33D8.

Contact Anup Kaphle at anup.kaphle@buzzfeed.com.

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