In early October I wrote about the assassination attempt against the president of the Maldives. It happened on his boat, whereby the president’s wife was injured, and he narrowly escaped the bomb blast. The government is tracking an increasing number of citizens traveling to Iraq and Syria to fight there, which of course is a concern for any country, let alone a country which almost entirely relies on tourism to make a living.
The Maldives declares a state of emergency
It seems that concern in the island nation is growing, as the Maldives has declared a state of emergency for the next 30 days. As of now the state of emergency seems to be politically motivated, as it comes a couple of days before a demonstration by the opposition party is scheduled. Via Reuters:
The Maldives declared a state of emergency for 30 days on Wednesday citing a threat to national security, as President Abdulla Yameen sought to shore up his power over the Indian Ocean island nation following a suspected assassination attempt.
The imposition of emergency rule, for the first time under a constitution passed in 2008, came two days before a demonstration planned by the main opposition party.
Senior ministers told Reuters the government would only make use of limited powers to restrict the right of assembly. There would no curfew or arbitrary detention.
It’s not surprising that the Maldives are urging people to still take their vacations, while some foreign countries are advising their citizens to “take extra care:”
“Please go ahead with your holidays — the Maldives are a peaceful country,” Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon told Reuters. “There has never been a major incident targeting tourists.”
A Western diplomat in Colombo said European Union members may consider a travel advisory after the order, which comes just before the peak tourism season.
Britain advised its citizens after the order to “take extra care”, when traveling to the Maldives. A record 1.2 million tourists visited in 2014, accounting for 29 percent of the economy.
Check out the full Reuters article for more backstory on the causes of the turmoil in the Maldives.
Is it still safe to travel to the Maldives?
While a “state of emergency” might sound alarming, in practice the current situation seems to be mostly political.
The conflict seems to be between the current president and the opposition party, as opposed to attempts of larger scale terrorism for the sake of sending a message. If anything I actually feel a bit more at ease knowing more of the backstory.
None of this is to say that the Maldives is 100% safe. Nowhere is — Bali and New York City have both had terrible attacks. And when you think about the harsh reality, the Maldives is extremely vulnerable to terrorism, given that you have a bunch of islands with virtually no security and easy access by water from all sides.
But at the same time you’ve gotta live your life, and I don’t think this “state of emergency” is any reason to avoid the Maldives.
What do you make of this “state of emergency,” and does it impact your willingness to travel to the Maldives?