Maldives Crisis Deepens as President Abdulla Yameen Declares Emergency

Michele Moreno
February 7, 2018

The declaration gives sweeping powers to security forces to arrest and detain individuals, curtails the powers of the judiciary and bars parliament from impeaching Yameen.

Rights group Amnesty International denounced the government's "appalling track-record of suppressing freedom of expression and any form of opposition".

On Sunday, the Opposition MPs signed a resolution, calling on the global community to impress upon the Maldives government the need to respect the rule of law, and implement last Thursday's Supreme Court ruling.

The Maldives government declared a 15-day state of emergency late Monday after refusing to enforce a Supreme Court order to free jailed politicians.

Security forces "blockaded and locked the Supreme Court building from outside and hence the justices are without any food", Maldives' former Attorney General Husnu Al Suood tweeted.

A half-brother of current President Yameen, he has now aligned himself with the opposition.

The tiny tourist archipelago has been plunged into a political crisis pitting the country's top court against Yameen, whose crackdown on dissent has tarnished the nation's image as an upmarket holiday paradise.

A government statement later yesterday said the prosecutor general had appraised the Supreme Court on the "numerous legal challenges" in the implementation of the ruling.

In 1988, Sri Lankan militants working for a Maldivian businessman tried to take control of the country and seized control of many government buildings.

India on Monday asked its nationals to cancel all "non-essential" travel to the Maldives.

When those legislators return, Mr Yameen's Progressive Party of the Maldives will lose its majority in the 85-member parliament, which could result in the legislative body functioning as a rival power to the president.

He urged the court to "review the concerns" of the government.

Addressing the nation on state television, Yameen said he had acted to prevent a coup, and suggested that the judges had chosen to side with his opponents because they were being investigated for corruption. "The Supreme Court verdict, in a way, means transfer of power", said a leader from MDP, which is led by Nasheed.

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

In a letter to the Supreme Court on Monday, Yameen wrote that judges had encroached on the powers of the state and called its recent ruling an "infringement of national security and public interest".

The MDP - which is led by Nasheed - has expressed fears that any move by the government to resist the Supreme Court's order may trigger unrest in the nation of 340,000 Sunni Muslims.

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.

The United States said it was "troubled and disappointed" at reports the leader had declared a state of emergency while calling on him to comply with the rule of law.

Strongman Yameen has been defiant in the face of worldwide pressure so far, ordering the arrest of two opposition lawmakers, who were later freed by a court, and staging a rally late Sunday with hundreds of supporters in the capital Male. He has been in exile since 2016 when he travelled to the United Kingdom for medical treatment and was granted asylum there.

Other reports by Insurance News

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