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Envoy reassures Saudi Arabia over Maldives emergency

Abdullah Hameed
RIYADH: The Maldives’ envoy in Saudi Arabia has sought to ease fears over escalating tensions in the island republic following the declaration of a state of emergency.
Abdullah Hameed, the ambassador to the Kingdom, said that “there is nothing to worry about since everything is normal — there is no curfew and judicial functions continue.”
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s general secretariat expressed grave concerns on Thursday over rising tensions in the Maldives following the declaration of a state of emergency on Monday by the republic’s president, Abdulla Yameen.
“Unfortunately, as usual, almost all reports (about the situation) are not factual and no one seems to be checking the reality on the ground,” Hameed told Arab News.
He said that a “Maldivian minister will visit the Kingdom soon as the special envoy of the president to explain to the Saudi leadership the correct position of the government.”
In 2017, 21,944 Saudis visited the Maldives, a 39.5 percent increase from the previous year. There are also 24 Saudis working as teachers in the island nation, in addition to embassy staff. Saudi Airlines flies to the Maldives twice a week from both Riyadh and Jeddah.
Hameed said the emergency was declared after consultation with the National Security Council over measures to guarantee citizens’ safety and security.
“Many countries across the world have increased internal security in recent years in response to domestic concerns. The Maldives should be seen in this light and is no different in this regard,” he said.
Freedom of movement and speech remained and there was no risk to tourists, Hameed said.
“The state of emergency has no effect on tourist resorts, tourist island and on tourism in general. (It) is an internal governance matter and has no implications for foreign visitors,” he said.
Schools and businesses are operating normally and the judiciary retains its full power.
Hameed said that the state of emergency affected only Male, the republic’s capital.
The Maldives opposition described the declaration of emergency as a “purge”.
Maldives police on Tuesday arrested Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, another Supreme Court judge, administrator of the judicial services commission Hassan Saeed Hussein and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, dramatically escalating the legal battle within the Maldives’ highest court.
Police said the men were arrested for alleged corruption and trying to overthrow the government by issuing illegal orders.

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