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Is it safe to visit the Maldives?

The popular holiday paradise, often prone to political turmoil, has declared a state of emergency.

The Maldives, a holiday paradise prone to political turmoil, has declared a state of emergency. This gives security forces sweeping powers to arrest individuals suspected of being opposition members, stop public gatherings and impose travel restrictions.

The foreign ministries of countries whose nationals regularly visit the Maldives on holiday are warning tourists to exercise caution and avoid protests or political rallies.

The outlying islands that are home to the majority of the country’s famous luxury resorts are so far unaffected – as is Male International Airport.

The state of emergency follows an order by the president, Abdulla Yameen, for military police to storm the Supreme Court. This came after the judges’ ruling that some of his jailed political opponents could have their criminal convictions overturned and be freed.

Instead, President Yameen ordered the arrest of two justices of the Supreme Court as well as a former president.

This is not the first time the Maldives has declared a state of emergency. In 2015, the government increased security in and around the capital Male after reports of a bomb plot against the president.

Still safe
Tourists wanting to cancel their holidays are unlikely to get a refund. The tour operator Kuoni, for example, says its cancellation policy remains unchanged. Governments and tour operators alike say that at the moment the Maldives is still safe to visit as a tourist.

Problems have been brewing in Male for years. Yameen, who came to power in 2013, has been facing increasing pressure to release another former president, Mohamed Nasheed, from a 13-year prison sentence.

Opposition members of parliament have repeatedly appealed to the international community for help with, as they see it, the rising police violence and increased militarisation of the country.

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