On 05 February 2018, the president of the Maldives declared a state of emergency across the island group. This declaration amounts to a suspension of the freedom of assembly and grants additional policing rights to security forces. In parallel, the country’s armed forces took control of the parliament and the Supreme Court in the capital Malé while police arrested a key opposition leader as well as judges.

Crackdown on Opposition
The current crackdown results from a growing power struggle between the Maldives’ government and opposition parties. It was triggered by a Supreme Court ruling which called for the release of imprisoned opposition politicians and for the reinstatement of twelve unseated members of parliament. The implementation of this ruling would have put the government’s majority at stake and could have led to the impeachment of the president.

“Given the island nation’s political polarisation, this power grab could turn even more violent.”

Critical Security Situation
While currently, security forces are largely loyal to the government, there is a high risk of pro-opposition factions breaking away, particularly in case of an excessive use of force. In this case, spontaneous armed clashes may catch unprepared travellers to the Maldives by surprise. Severe violence is also likely during pro-opposition street protests, particularly in the city of Malé. Moreover, during the state of emergency, restrictions to the freedom of movement are possible across the country, affecting locals and foreign travellers alike.

Photo credit: Dying Regime | License: Creative Commons