It’s a political State of emergency… Not a real one!

Today is just another day Maldives is making headlines again for all the wrong reasons. The timing couldn’t be more perfect as tourist high season is just beginning and the country depends heavily on tourism revenues.

bomb disposal unit  checking on a reported IED
bomb disposal unit checking on a reported IED

The government all of a sudden declared state of emergency across the whole country citing security concerns. Specifically the authorities believe a container of explosives and fire arms has been imported to the country from China (by VP and his partners) and some elements are planning to use them against the president. The president already survived an IED attach on his boat after he returned from Hajj and the VP has since been arrested and kept in detention pending charges of “high treason” according to the home minister. The VP is accused of all sorts of crimes including running gangs, influencing police and military, bribing institutions etc. and its very likely that there are some elements of truth in these charges and that he will be given long prison sentences. The parliament is already trying to impeach him without the support of the biggest opposition party MDP, which means a crucial 5 votes needed to pass the impeachment motion will have to be either bought or ransomed for the release of former president Nasheed (who is also in jail) or whichever is less costlier for the current government.

mdp demo
Opposition MDP rally against the governement

However the view from across the public is of deep mistrust as this state of emergency looks very much an effort to stop huge demonstrations against the government for detention of several politicians including the former president Nasheed and Sheikh Imran the leader of Adhaalath party. What is most apparent in these unfortunate events is that the decree to impose state of emergency also includes clause halving the number of days the VP can prepare to answer to the parliament in the no confidence motion. The stated reason for the state of emergency namely about loose weapons posing danger to the public shall have nothing to do with the number of days VP can get to prepare for his defense. It’s also true that the current government has very little public support and is in deep trouble with public opinion locally and globally. Imprisoning politicians, stifling dissent and ruling under state of emergency should not be the way forward for Maldives. Maldives is such a sunny country we can do better than this.

For the record we can say that Maldives is as sunny as always and there are no threats to life or property and guests are unlikely to be ever harmed in their holidays. What is happening inside is crude political drama and is more hype than substance.

Occupancy dropping!

mdp women protestors drenched in protest
mdp women protestors drenched in protest

After an average high season of tourists in November to February, occupancy rates in resorts are dropping across the board with an alarming urgency. Our friends in many resorts say the situation is desperate in many resorts as the continuing political struggle in Male’ is taking a heavy toll on the tourism industry.

And there is no end in sight for the problem 😦

The parties to the struggle are firmly locked in immutable positions and there is very little room for either party to maneuver.
For the vanquished MDP, it has to maintain the story of being wronged and unlawfully ousted narrative to gain lost ground to some of politically unpopular policies it pursued while in power.

For the victors (DRP, PPM, Adhaalath and the coalition), they have not yet finished distributing the political chairs amongst themselves and have only a few months to face the election. So they will also try their best to retain the temporary advantage they have and make a good impression on the voters.

Both sides of the conflict are using media to spin their version of story and are being increasingly graphic in their story telling. Sometimes it seems as if the only real reason for the continuing protests is in Male’ to take good pictures to put in the media. Above pic is a good example of that.

Taking all these into context one wonders, why are we fighting? What is the real price of this in-fighting? Is this an affordable fight? Already we have been able to inflict 200 million ruffiyaas worth of damage in a few hours to police buildings and equipments. What more do we need? Loss to tourism income might not be as visible as burnt and torched buildings, but once the resorts revenues gets below to a certain threshold, they will start laying off workers and closing for ‘renovations’. But who cares?