Posts Tagged ‘state of emergency’

Turkey’s opposition scents success against Erdogan — “Wind in their sails”

June 1, 2018

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Tukrey’s authoritarian president may be in a spot of bother

VICTORY for Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development (AK) party in presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24th should have been a foregone conclusion. The strongman enjoys unwavering support from his religious base, indirect control over practically all big news outlets, and emergency powers that allow him to rule by decree, lock up some critics and make others think twice before speaking.

The second-largest opposition party in parliament, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), has been in effect banished from the airwaves. Its candidate for president, one of Mr Erdogan’s most outspoken rivals, Selahattin Demirtas, was arrested in 2016 on trumped-up terrorism charges, and is leading his campaign from a prison cell.

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The president’s opponents are still the underdogs in the coming votes, to be held early and for the first time simultaneously. But they seem to have picked up momentum—and found the right candidates.

Muharrem Ince, the nominee of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), is a popular firebrand and one of the few secular politicians capable of connecting with religious voters. Born into a conservative family, Mr Ince prays regularly and defends the right of female civil servants to wear the Islamic headscarf, but also seems to enjoy an occasional drink. Meral Aksener, a veteran nationalist and a former minister of the interior, has propelled herself and her Iyi (“Good”) party from obscurity to the national stage. Remarkably for a party founded less than a year ago, Iyi seems poised to receive well above 10% of the vote in the parliamentary election. Recent polls give Mrs Aksener herself up to 20% in the first round of the presidential contest. Mr Demirtas has also polled in the double digits—not bad for a politician forced to communicate with the outside world through his lawyers and a few social-media accounts.

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Muharrem Ince

Mr Erdogan’s opponents have taken a few pages out of the president’s playbook. Earlier this year AK formed an electoral coalition with the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), whose leader spent years calling Mr Erdogan a dictator only to change tack in exchange for help fighting off an internal challenge. By hitching its wagon to the ruling party’s, the MHP will no longer have to clear the 10% threshold needed to enter parliament.

The opposition has responded in kind. Soon after Mr Erdogan called early elections, the CHP, Iyi, the Felicity Party (SP) and the small Democrat Party forged an alliance of their own, paving the way for even the smallest of the group to send a few members to parliament. A surprising display of solidarity followed. When rumours started to fly that Iyi might be barred from running in the elections due to a controversy about the timing of its party congress, the CHP loaned it some of its own MPs. (Any party with at least 20 members of parliament can take part in the elections.) Each of the two main opposition hopefuls has promised to endorse the other in the second round against Mr Erdogan, assuming he does not win outright.

The opposition has been less magnanimous towards the HDP, which was not invited to join the alliance. Most Turks view the party as a front for the PKK, a Kurdish insurgent group. But some overtures have been made. The presidential contenders have all called for Mr Demirtas to be released before the elections, a plea the courts and the government have ignored.

The sight of the CHP, a secularist party, in cahoots with the SP, an Islamist one, probably has their respective founders, Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey, and Necmettin Erbakan, a former prime minister, turning in their graves. But desperate times make for desperate bedfellows. Temel Karamollaoglu, the SP’s leader, says the alliance is a marriage of necessity designed to rescue what remains of Turkey’s democracy from Mr Erdogan’s grip. The president and his men have less in common with political Islam than with crony capitalism, says Mr Karamollaoglu. “There is no justice,” he says. “The separation of powers is gone.”

The opposition parties have vowed to scrap Mr Erdogan’s new constitution, which passed by a sliver in a 2017 referendum marred by irregularities and allegations of fraud. The changes will kick in immediately after the elections, reducing parliamentary oversight, abolishing the office of prime minister and concentrating all executive power in the hands of the president. Mr Ince describes this as a recipe for a “one-man regime” and promises to change the constitution again to return to parliamentary rule “as soon as possible”. He and others also pledge to end the state of emergency, which began days after an abortive coup in July 2016, and which has served as cover for sweeping government repression. They may be able to do this, if they can win enough seats to wrest control of parliament from the AK.

For now, Mr Erdogan’s biggest headache is a currency crisis largely of his own making. The president has long insisted on holding lending rates down to keep the economy firing on all cylinders. The central bank has obliged. But the resulting credit binge has come at a cost. The value of the Turkish lira has fallen by half against the dollar since 2015. Following an interview in May in which Mr Erdogan repeated his odd view that high interest rates cause inflation and signalled he would take even greater control of monetary policy after the elections, the currency lost 10% of its value in a week. It strengthened only when Mr Erdogan ceded to orthodoxy and allowed the central bank to raise rates (see article). Turkish companies that racked up mountains of foreign debt may now be on the verge of default. Despite his authoritarian record and wacky economic theories, the markets have always preferred Mr Erdogan and his AK to the fragmented opposition. Over the past month they may have had a change of heart.

This article appeared in the Europe section of the print edition under the headline “Wind in their sails”

Erdogan’s policies driving Turkey to the edge, challenger says — “I see that a wind of change is blowing”

May 16, 2018

President Tayyip Erdogan is driving Turkey “to the cliff” through ideological politics and a determination to control the central bank, the main opposition party’s presidential candidate said on Wednesday as the lira hit new record lows.

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FILE PHOTO: The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaks at Chatham House in central London, Britain May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

Muharrem Ince, who seeks to end Erdogan’s 15-year hold on power in next month’s elections, said the central bank and other economic institutions must be able to operate independently.

Erdogan said this week he plans to take greater control of the economy after the June 24 presidential and parliamentary polls, comments which drove the lira to fresh record lows. It is down 15 percent against the dollar this year.

“He’s taking the country to the cliff. The central bank needs to be independent, and the other economic bodies need to be autonomous. The rules need to operate,” Ince told Reuters in an interview.

The victor in next month’s election, held under a state of emergency imposed after a failed coup in 2016, will exercise sweeping new executive powers after Turks narrowly approved a constitutional overhaul in a referendum last year. The changes come into effect after the June vote.

Polls show Erdogan is comfortably the strongest candidate, though he could face a challenge if the presidential vote goes to a second round in July and his opponents rally around the other remaining candidate.

Ince, 54, a combative parliamentarian and former physics teacher, has energized his secularist opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) since he started campaigning and may emerge as the leading opposition candidate – although he faces competition from former interior minister Meral Aksener.

Aksener’s nationalist Iyi (Good) Party and the CHP have joined with two other smaller parties in an opposition alliance for the parliamentary election. She and Ince are competing separately in the presidential vote.


Ince said the president was driven by “ideological obsessions” and pushing Turkey in the wrong direction.

Erdogan, a self-described “enemy of interest rates”, wants lower borrowing costs to boost credit and new construction, and has said the central bank will not be able to ignore the president’s wishes. That has fueled concerns about the bank’s ability to fight double-digit inflation.

Since his Islamist-rooted AK Party swept to power in 2002, Erdogan has dominated Turkish politics. His power is reinforced by a near-monopoly of broadcast media coverage. Most TV channels show nearly all his campaign rallies, but rarely offer a platform to his opponents.

“The state of the media is heartbreaking. They have surrendered, they have kneeled,” Ince said, adding he had told broadcasters that unless they started to cover his speeches, he would hold a rally directly outside their offices to shame them.

If elected, Ince pledged to reverse some of the powers granted to the new presidency, saying it handed total control of the budget, judiciary and executive to one person.

Several European Union countries have expressed alarm that those changes are pushing Turkey deeper into authoritarian rule. Turkey is still a candidate for EU membership, though negotiations have stalled over rights concerns and other issues.

Erdogan says the increased powers are necessary to tackle security threats following the failed coup and conflict on Turkey’s southern borders with Syria and Iraq.

“No mortal should be given such authority,” Ince said. “It shouldn’t be given to me either.”

Against Erdogan, a skilled campaigner, the CHP has struggled to win support beyond its core base of secular-minded voters. In the last parliamentary election in November 2015 it took 25.3 percent of the vote.

Ince has pledged to be a non-partisan leader if elected, styling himself as “everyone’s president” and promising not to live in the 1,000-room palace built by Erdogan in Ankara.

“I see that a wind of change is blowing,” he said, pointing to what he described as a new atmosphere at his political rallies compared to last year’s referendum campaign.

“The momentum I have garnered is very different – there is a strong wind and people feel excitement,” he said.

Additional reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen and Gulsen Solaker in Ankara; Editing by David Dolan and Gareth Jones


Erdoğan kicks off election campaign in CHP stronghold İzmir

April 27, 2018

Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AK Party) will begin working intensely for the early June 24 general and presidential elections as President and Chairman of the AK Party Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will kick off the campaign tomorrow in the western province of İzmir, a city known for being a stronghold for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

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In the last Nov. 1, 2015 elections, the CHP garnered nearly 47 percent of the vote in İzmir. Yet, the AK Party has an improving trend in İzmir province. While the CHP received 55 percent of the vote in the 2009 local elections in İzmir, its votes dropped to 49 percent in 2014, and the AK Party increased its votes by 5 percent by reaching from 30 percent to 35 percent from 2009 to 2014 in the CHP stronghold. Erdoğan places great emphasis on increasing votes in İzmir, the third most-populated metropolis in Turkey. Traditionally, the electoral base in the western coastal city is known to be secularist and have center-left tendencies, making it a more strategic location for the AK Party’s broader strategy of winning the elections.

Erdoğan is expected to visit around 50 provinces and more than 20 districts to meet with voters across the country. According to media reports yesterday, the AK Party cadres have been instructed by Erdoğan to use the limited time as effectively as possible. The party’s roadmap for the electoral propaganda has been set out in Central Executive Board (MYK) and Central Decision Board (MKYK) meetings, and Erdoğan has called on everyone to give their best in the process.

The AK Party has also taken the holy month of Ramadan into consideration, during which practicing Muslims are fasting during the day. In this respect, AK Party deputies and members will hold rallies in the day; gather with citizens for fast-breaking events in the evening and for sahur [early breakfast before the fasting begins] in the morning.

Erdoğan is expected to announce his party’s electoral manifest on May 6 in Istanbul.

With this strategy, the AK Party will seek to reach out to as many voters as possible by coming together at least three times. Since there are only less than 60 days left until the crucial elections, the ruling party is taking the issue seriously. In addition to Erdoğan’s rallies, Prime Minister and Vice Chairman Binali Yıldırım will also attend events.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that aside from the objective of winning the presidential elections, the AK Party will also accelerate efforts to gain the majority in Parliament. According to some sources, AK Party deputies have been stressing that winning the presidential elections would not be enough, and that the results must also impact the balance in Parliament. Party officials underline that a majority needs to be obtained so that the new presidential governing system functions well. AK Party authorities contend that “in a Parliament consisting of 400 AK Party and 200 opposition bloc, you would face problems even if you won the presidential elections.”

It has been argued that if the party of the president and the majority party in Parliament are not one and the same, it might lead to a deadlock that prevents the ratification of significant regulations.

During the run-up to the elections, the AK Party deputies are expected to inform the party supporters regarding the issue and highlight the significance of gaining a majority in Parliament. The issue is also considered as significant by the opposition bloc, who underscore gaining the majority in Parliament.

More than 50 million Turkish citizens will head to ballot boxes on June 24 for the parliamentary and presidential elections after the AK Party and the MHP called for early elections last week.

“Turkey is still governed by the system that we can call ‘the old one.’ Even though it seems as if there is no serious problem, we may be confronted with the diseases of the old system,” Erdoğan said, also citing security reasons with regard to the need for early elections.

Daily Sabah


Is Turkey’s Erdogan ‘Irreplaceable’? Abdullah Gul may try to find out… Speaks of ‘Normalization’

April 27, 2018

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  • Gul and Erdogan have mostly followed the same political paths and a religiously conservative ideology
  • A split between the two men recently erupted when Gul criticized the controversial state of emergency decree law

 ANKARA: Rumors are rife in Turkey that former President Abdullah Gul could emerge as a possible contender against his once close political ally President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the June elections.

Gul, who along with Erdogan was among the founders of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2001, has met with opposition leaders amid speculation he could run as a presidential candidate for the main opposition alliance.

Erdogan called the snap election, which will select the president and Parliament members, last week, catching opposition parties off guard.

Gul and Erdogan have mostly followed the same political paths and a religiously conservative ideology.

However, Gul, who served as Turkey’s president from 2007 to 2014, has increasingly criticized Erdogan’s handling of the aftermath of an attempted coup in 2016.

A split between the two men recently erupted when Gul criticized the controversial state of emergency decree law that exempted civilians who fought against the coup attempt in 2016 from criminal liability.

Slams Erdogan

He also openly slammed the repeated extension of the state of emergency in Turkey, which has been in place since the coup, and called for normalization in the country.

With his conciliatory approach to politics and leadership in the rapprochement process with Armenia and the Kurds in Turkey, Gul was widely respected by the international community as president.

Asked about speculation on Gul’s candidacy, Erdogan said on Tuesday: “I don’t have a problem with that.”

“Alliances with the sole motivation of hostility toward Erdogan are being formed,” he added.

If nominated by the opposition camp, Gul is expected to announce a manifesto that promises a return to the parliamentary system by abolishing the executive presidential changes to the constitution approved by a controversial referendum last year.

He is also said to be announcing a new constitutional draft and suggesting an alternative council of ministers focused on improving the Turkish economy.

The deadline to submit applications for the presidential candidacy is May 4.

Gul held talks with the leader of the Islamist Felicity Party (SP), Temel Karamollaoglu, on Wednesday and met former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara a day earlier, according to Turkey’s pro-government daily Haber Turk.

Other opposition figures are also meeting to discuss alliances for the election on June 24. Karamollaoglu met Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Meral Aksener, who heads the right-wing nationalist Good Party (Iyi Parti).

Electoral opportunity

Kilicdaroglu has described the upcoming elections as an opportunity to salvage the country from what the opposition claims is Erdogan’s increasingly draconian rule.

“Abdullah Gul’s name is not on the CHP agenda,” said Ozgur Ozel, parliamentary group leader of CHP. But the SP still insists on his candidacy.

According to experts, for the other candidates to surpass Erdogan they will need the votes of all the other opposition parties and some of the AKP constituencies.

Polls show that Erdogan, who has dominated the top rungs of power in the country for more than 15 years, enjoys about 50 percent of voter support.

“This means that a candidate would need to appeal to Turkish nationalists, Kurdish nationalists, Islamists and secularists in order to get more votes than Erdogan who has a much more solid base,” Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, Ankara director of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, told Arab News.

Gul appears to be the best alternative in this regard, experts said.

However, the decision by the newly founded Iyi Party on whether they would join other opposition parties to nominate Gul as the opposition block candidate would be critical.

If Erdogan does not win the presidency in the first round of voting — by securing at least 50 percent plus one vote — then a second round will be held within two weeks.

If the race is between more than two candidates, Erdogan would win the presidency again, said Dr. Emre Erdogan, co-founder of an Istanbul-based research company, Infakto Research Workshop.

“Hence, the calculus of Gul’s move is simple: Exchanging mid-to-long-term uncertain gains, with certain short-term victories, namely being the next president of Turkey,” he told Arab News.

Nominating conservative Gul will cost the CHP some ultra-secular votes, but considering the discipline of its voters, the price will be minuscule and easily compensated by Kurdish voters who favor Gul, Dr. Emre Erdogan said.

“Among all alternative scenarios, only the nomination of Gul seems to be the one with the highest potential to influence the outcome,” he said.


Eight Egyptian soldiers, 14 militants killed in Sinai attack: army

April 14, 2018


CAIRO (Reuters) – Eight Egyptian soldiers and 14 militants were killed in fighting in central Sinai on Saturday when gunmen carrying explosive belts and grenades targeted a military checkpoint, the army said.

The attack was the largest against Egyptian security forces since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi won a second term in office last month, promising to work for stability and security in Egypt.

It also came just hours after the country extended a state of emergency imposed a year ago.

The militants attacked the checkpoint at around dawn, an army statement said. Four of them detonated their explosive belts, killing the soldiers and wounding 15 others, it added.

 Illustrative: Egyptian army conscripts stand guard outside the Suez Canal University hospital in the eastern port city of Ismailia on November 25, 2017, where the victims of a bomb and gun assault on the North Sinai Rawda mosque a day earlier.. (AFP Photo/Mohamed El-Shahed)

Illustrative: Egyptian army conscripts stand guard outside the Suez Canal University (AFP Photo/Mohamed El-Shahed) — FILE photo

Egypt has been fighting an Islamist insurgency in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula since Sisi ousted Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, after popular protests against Mursi’s rule.

Sisi in November ordered the military to defeat militants in north Sinai within three months, after an attack on a mosque that killed more than 300 people, the deadliest such incident in the Arab world’s most populous country.

The military launched what it said was a major operation against the militants in February, a month before Sisi was re-elected in a vote featuring just one other candidate, a strong supporter of the president.

Reporting by Ahmed Tolba; writing by Arwa Gaballa; editing by Clelia Oziel

Buddhist mobs target Sri Lanka’s Muslims despite state of emergency

March 7, 2018


COLOMBO (Reuters) – Buddhist mobs attacked mosques and businesses belonging to Sri Lanka’s minority Muslims overnight, police said on Wednesday, despite the imposition of a state of emergency to restore peace in the bitterly divided island.

Police imposed an indefinite curfew in the central highlands district of Kandy where the violence has been centered since Sunday night following the death of a Buddhist youth in an altercation with a group of Muslims.

But police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said there had been “several incidents” throughout Tuesday night in the Kandy area, popular with tourists for its tea gardens.

Sri Lankan soldiers and police officers outside a vandalized building in Digana, a suburb of Kandy, on Tuesday after mob attacks there. Credit Pradeep Pathiran/Associated Press

“The police arrested seven people. Three police officers were injured from the incidents,” Gunasekara told Reuters. There was no information about how many civilians had been injured in the attacks, he said.

Tension has been growing between the two communities in Sri Lanka over the past year, with some hardline Buddhist groups accusing Muslims of forcing people to convert to Islam and vandalizing Buddhist archaeological sites.

Some Buddhist nationalists have also protested against the presence in Sri Lanka of Muslim Rohingya asylum-seekers from mostly Buddhist Myanmar, where Buddhist nationalism has also been on the rise.

President Maithripala Sirisena imposed a state of emergency for seven days on Tuesday, aiming to stop the violence from spreading to other parts of the country still healing from a 26-year civil war against Tamil separatists that ended in 2009.


Elite Sri Lankan forces and police officers stand guard near a house burnt down in the clashes in Digana, central Kandy (Reuters)

A government minister said the latest violence in Kandy had been whipped up by people from outside the area. “There is an organized conspiracy behind these incidents,” Sarath Amunugama, a senior minister told reporters in Colombo.

He said the government will implement the rule of law impartially in the overwhelmingly Buddhist nation in which Muslims make up 9 percent of the 21 million population, the smallest minority after ethnic Tamils, most of whom are Hindus.

Police ordered Dialog Axiata, the country’s largest mobile phone service provider, to restrain internet connections in the Kandy district after postings appeared on Facebook threatening attacks on Muslims.

Reporting by Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilalt; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Michael Perry

Sri Lanka declares emergency to quell anti-Muslim riots

March 6, 2018


© AFP/File | Sri Lankan police have imposed a curfew in the riot-hit central district of Kandy, home to famous tea plantations and Buddhist relics
COLOMBO (AFP) – Sri Lanka Tuesday declared a nationwide state of emergency to quell anti-Muslim riots that have killed at least two people and damaged dozens of mosques and homes.”The cabinet of ministers decided on tough measures, including a 10-day nationwide state of emergency,” Minister of City Planning Rauff Hakeem said as police imposed a curfew in the riot-hit central district of Kandy.

The government deployed heavily-armed police commandos in the hill station region, which is popular with tourists, after rioters defied an overnight curfew and went on the rampage.

The curfew in the district was extended after the body of a Muslim man was pulled from the ashes of a burnt building, threatening to further raise communal tensions that have flared up across Sri Lanka in recent weeks.

The emergency declaration gives authorities sweeping powers to arrest and detain suspects for long periods, and allows the government to deploy forces where needed.

It is the first time in seven years Sri Lanka has resorted to such a measure. The island nation was under a state of emergency for nearly three decades as government forces battled Tamil rebels in a civil war that ended in 2009.

Hakeem said the riots were concentrated in Kandy — home to famous tea plantations and Buddhist relics — but the government wanted to send a strong message given outbreaks of communal violence elsewhere recently.

A police spokesman said earlier Tuesday hundreds of commandos from the police Special Task Force had been deployed to Kandy to restore order and enforce the curfew.

Muslim homes, business and mosques were badly damaged in riots Monday triggered by the death of a Sinhalese man at the hands of a mob last week.

The Sinhalese are a mainly Buddhist ethnic group making up nearly three-quarters of Sri Lanka’s 21 million people. Muslims account for 10 percent of its population.

More than two dozen arrests have been made and an inquiry opened into police conduct in Kandy, just the latest region to be plagued by religious and ethnic conflict.

Mobs set fire to Muslim-owned businesses and attacked a mosque in the east of the country last week after a Muslim chef was accused of adding contraceptives to food sold to Sinhalese.

The government dismissed the allegation as baseless and ordered the arrest of those fomenting unrest in the area.

Last November riots in the south of the island left one man dead and homes and vehicles damaged.

In June 2014 riots between Buddhists and Muslims left four dead and many injured.

That violence was instigated by a Buddhist extremist group whose leaders are on trial accused of spurring religious conflict.

Maldives detains, deports international lawyers sent to study emergency rule

February 28, 2018

Maldivian opposition supporters scuffle with security forces officers during a protest demanding the release of political prisoners in Male. Maldives President Abdulla Yameen extended a draconian state of emergency by another month on February 20. (AFP)
COLOMBO: The Maldives detained and deported a group of international lawyers who traveled to the troubled honeymoon islands to study the impact of emergency rule, their organization said Wednesday.
Law Asia, a regional lawyers’ association, said it had sent four members in response to an open invitation the government issued two days after President Abdulla Yameen imposed a state of emergency.
That followed a Supreme Court order, later rescinded, to release political prisoners and reinstate sacked lawmakers — a move that would have cost Yameen his majority in parliament.
The president has overseen a major crackdown on dissent in recent years, jailing a series of prominent critics including the opposition leader and sacking MPs who defected from the ruling party.
Earlier this month Yameen sacked the chief justice and another senior judge before imposing emergency rule, sparking international condemnation.
The crisis has hit the image of the Maldives as a peaceful holiday paradise, although it has had little impact on life away from the capital in the upmarket resort islands popular with honeymooners.
The four lawyers were detained on Sunday when they arrived at Male international airport, where they were held and subsequently deported, Law Asia said.
“By such action, the government of Maldives deprived itself of the benefit of an independent and impartial assessment by a fact-finding team not sponsored by any individuals, parties or organizations in the Maldives,” it said.
The government had invited international organizations to send representatives to “assess the situation in the Maldives and witness the safety and security of Male” under emergency rule.
Law Asia said they had been trying for more than two weeks to arrange special visas before deciding to send the delegation after informing the immigration authorities.
Separately, Yameen’s niece Dunya Maumoon resigned late Tuesday as health minister.
She had been under pressure to resign since Yameen ordered the arrest of her father, ex-president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
The 80-year-old was president for 30 years until the country’s first democratic elections in 2008 and was initially see as the power behind the throne until he became estranged from his half-brother and backed the opposition.
He was arrested on a charge of trying to topple the government hours after the emergency was declared.

After Maldives Ignores Advice On Emergency, India Sends Sharp Message

February 22, 2018

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen has overlooked repeated appeals from India urging him to roll back the emergency provisions imposed early February; the last one made just a few hours before he announced the 30-day extension.


After Maldives Ignores Advice On Emergency, India Sends Sharp Message

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen had initially imposed the emergency on February 5



  1. India said it was “deeply dismayed” with Maldives’ extension of emergency
  2. India stressed extension would delay restoration of democracy in Maldives
  3. Maldives president Yameen has overlooked repeated appeals from India

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen’s decision to extend Emergency for 30 more days has provoked a sharp response from New Delhi that had been trying to persuade the tiny island nation to restore democracy. The Foreign Ministry said India was “deeply dismayed” by the development and underscored that the manner in which the Emergency had been extended was “in contravention” of its Constitution.

President Yameen has overlooked repeated appeals from India urging him to roll back the emergency provisions imposed early February; the last one made just a few hours before he announced the 30-day extension.

New Delhi stressed that the extension of emergency would lead to delay in the resumption of the political process and the continuing suspension of the functioning of democratic institutions including the judiciary.

“We are deeply dismayed that the government of Maldives has extended the State of Emergency for a further 30 days. The manner in which the extension of the State of Emergency was approved by the Majlis in contravention of the Constitution of Maldives is also a matter of concern,” India’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Under Maldives Constitution, matters that require compliance by citizens can only be passed if more than half of its total members are present in the House.

Because the opposition parties refused to consider extending Emergency, President Yameen was not able to fulfil this basic requirement. He has attempted to work around the provision by claiming that the state of Emergency would not apply to law-abiding citizens but only “those alleged to have carried out illegal activities”.

According to a Reuters report, Maldives prosecutor general Aishath Bisham had told police that the extended state of emergency was unconstitutional. There has, however, been no word from the police on this communication. President Yameen had earlier removed two police chiefs who had refused to follow his directions.

President Yameen had initially imposed the emergency on February 5 for 15 days to annul a Supreme Court ruling that quashed convictions against nine opposition leaders and ordered his government to free those held in prison. Among them was exiled ex-president Mohamed Nasheed. The court had also reinstated 12 members unseated from the parliament last July for floor-crossing.

President Yameen’s soldiers had responded by storming the Supreme Court and charging the country’s two senior judges and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom with bribery.

Since then, the remaining judges of the top court have, one by one, surrendered their power to decide cases individuals and struck down provisions of the 1 February Supreme Court verdict that had triggered the crisis for President Yameen.

The court has also restored convictions against the nine opposition leaders, ruled that there was nothing wrong in the Emergency and gone on to again cancel the membership of the 12 members who crossed from the ruling party to the opposition.


Ethiopia declares ‘state of emergency’ to last six months

February 17, 2018

This file photo taken on June 10, 2015 shows Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn attending the closing session of an African summit meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. (AFP)
ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia said Saturday that a state of emergency will remain in place for six months, as the authorities move to quell “chaos and unruliness.”
The council of ministers declared the country’s second emergency decree in two years on Friday evening.
It capped a tumultuous week that saw Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resign, a strike in the country’s largest region and a massive prisoner amnesty.
“The state of emergency will be for six months and will be approved by parliament,” state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) wrote on Facebook, quoting Defense Minister Siraj Fegessa.
The government had cited “ethnic-based clashes” and “chaos and unruliness” as the reasons for the declaration.
“To be able to protect the constitutional system, declaring a state of emergency has become necessary,” EBC said, quoting a government communique.
While the decree is already in effect, parliamentary approval for the requested six-month period appears likely as the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and its allies control all the seats in the House of Peoples’ Representatives.
Ethiopia last declared a state of emergency in October 2016 after months of protests in Oromia — home to the country’s largest ethnicity, the Oromos — and neighboring Amhara region.
The 10-month decree succeeded in quelling the unrest, which killed hundreds and resulted in tens of thousands of arrests, despite criticism from rights groups.
But anti-government sentiment remained in the two regions and the analysts believe Hailemariam’s response to the protests eventually led to his surprise resignation, a first in modern Ethiopia.
The prime minister said he was leaving to give the EPRDF space as it pursued political reforms.
“I myself want to become part of the solution,” he said in announcing his resignation Thursday.
Last month, Hailemariam announced Ethiopia would release some jailed “politicians” in order to “improve the national consensus and widen the democratic platform.”
In the weeks since, hundreds of prisoners were pardoned or released from custody, including some of the country’s most prominent dissidents.
Nonetheless, Oromo activists called a strike earlier this week that saw businesses shutter and young men armed with rocks and sticks block roads in Oromia to push the government to keep its prisoner amnesty promise.
The strike was called off after detained Oromo politicians were freed along with hundreds of other prisoners including journalist Eskinder Nega and opposition leader Andualem Arage.
The next day, Hailemariam announced his resignation.
He will remain in office until parliament and the EPRDF coalition confirm his resignation. It remains unclear who will then take over.