Published: Wed, February 07, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

Maldives Leader Declares State of Emergency, Ex President Arrested

Maldives Leader Declares State of Emergency, Ex President Arrested

There were judges inside the court but the spokesman said he was unable to contact them, BBC reports.

The beleaguered Maldivian president has declared a 15-day state of emergency, his aide Azima Shukoor announced on state television on Monday.

The president's main rival urged people not to obey what he called an "unlawful order".

The Maldives has been buffeted by one political crisis after another since Nasheed, the first democratically-elected president, was forced to quit in 2012.

The U.S. National Security Council, in a tweet, said: "America stands with the people of Maldives".

Parliament has also been prevented from meeting following the Supreme Court's surprise ruling a week ago, which sparked mass protests calling for the state to respect the ruling.

The government has already suspended parliament and ordered the army to resist any moves by the Supreme Court to impeach President Abdulla Yameen.

The Supreme Court said the anti-defection ruling was issued as a temporary solution to the constitutional dispute case filed by the state but insisted that the relevant authorities have failed to bring to effect an anti-defection law specified in the ruling. It is "nothing but a purge of the political opposition, the judiciary and the parliament", she said in a post on Twitter. This could lead to the opposition evicting the Speaker and passing no-confidence motions against government officials.

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Later, former dictator and opposition politician Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was seen on cellphone video shot by his daughter being quietly escorted from his home by security forces, hugging friends and family and waving to supporters before being driven away. When those lawmakers return, Yameen's Progressive Party of the Maldives will lose its majority in the 85-member parliament, which can result in the legislative body functioning as a rival power to the president.

The US State Department said in a press release that it supports the Supreme Court's decision and "it is imperative that the Maldivian President, government, and security services uphold the constitution and rule of law and implement the court's ruling in full".

In addition to ordering the release of the political prisoners, the court also reinstated 12 politicians who had been ousted for switching allegiance to the opposition.

Mr Gayoom was the archipelago nation's president from 1978 to 2008 and is the half brother of the Maldives' current president, Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Yameen has cracked down on civil liberties since coming to power in 2013, imprisoning or forcing into exile almost every politician who opposes him.

He had been set to run for re-election this year virtually unopposed, with all of his opponents either jailed or exiled. The move prompted Nasheed, now in self-exile, to say he would return to contest elections that are expected to be held later this year. Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in prison on terrorism charges but later secured asylum in Britain.

International rights watchdog Amnesty International has warned Male that emergency rule "must not become a licence for further repression", pointing to the country's "appalling track record of suppressing freedom of expression".

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