Maldives travel alert issued to British holidaymakers

Maldives travel alert issued to British holidaymakers

A travel alert for British holidaymakers to the Maldives was issued after political unrest triggered a state of emergency yesterday.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office altered its travel advice and urged travellers to be cautious as security forces were deployed in the capital of Male.

However, the FCO added that “there are no reports that outlying islands, resorts or Male international airport are affected”.

The Indian Ocean country is made up of 26 coral atolls and 1,192 individual islands, and tourism is a vital part of its economy.

The FCO’s revised travel advice said: “On 5 February 2018, the Maldives government declared a state of emergency.

“Security forces have been deployed in the capital Male in response to political developments.

“If you’re in Male, you should exercise caution and avoid any protests or rallies.

“Political protests and demonstrations often take place in Mae. Some have led to violence and arrests.

“You should take appropriate security precautions, comply with local security requirements and avoid protests and rallies.”

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he was “gravely concerned” about the state of emergency in Maldives, and the accompanying suspension of fundamental rights.

“The damage being done to democratic institutions in Maldives and the sustained misuse of process in Parliament is deeply worrying,” he added.

The political turmoil started when President Abdulla Yameen refused to obey a court order to release political dissidents, the BBC reported.

Maldives police reportedly arrested the country’s chief justice of the Supreme Court hours after the government state of emergency was imposed.

The court last week ordered the release of a group of opposition politicians. It also ruled that the 2015 trial of former President Mohamed Nasheed, who is living in exile, had been unconstitutional.

The state of emergency gives security forces a range of powers to make arrests and ban public gatherings.

Former Abta chairman and Advantage chief executive John McEwan, now chairman of a range of travel companies, tweeted: “Concerning about repression in the Maldives. If not resolved then it will affect tourism.”

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