Maldives president declares state of emergency

Maldives president declares state of emergency

The Maldives government declared a 15-day state of emergency Monday as the political crisis deepened in the Indian Ocean nation amid an increasingly bitter standoff between the president and the Supreme Court.

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. The trial that was widely condemned by worldwide rights groups.

"In the spirit of democracy and rule of law, it is imperative for all organs of the government of Maldives to respect and abide by the order of the apex court", the External Affairs said in a statement.

In a letter addressed to the global community, Maldives opposition lawmakers appealed for external support in persuading Yameen to end the tense standoff with the country's highest court.

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.

Nasheed, who was granted asylum by Britain after the government allowed him to leave jail for medical treatment overseas in 2016, sought Indian intervention to resolve the island nation's most serious political crisis in years.

The President has refused to comply with a court order to release political prisoners, despite growing global pressure and concern.

How else has the government responded to the court ruling?

Situated to the southwest of India and Sri Lanka, the Maldives are a chain of atolls home to nearly 400,000 people and hugely popular as a tourist destination, especially for Chinese visitors.

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"The military seems to be in charge tonight", said Mickail Naseem, president of the Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)'s youth wing, who was among the protesters.

The detention of Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and another Supreme Court judge raised the stakes in a dramatic clash after Yameen refused to comply with the court's order to release political dissidents. The charges were not specified.

After the state of emergency was announced on state television, Mr Yameen issued a statement saying that "though certain rights will be restricted, general movements, services and businesses will not be affected" while it is in effect.

The united opposition parliamentary group after an impromptu sit-down told reporters that the president had unlawfully abused his power to declare a state of emergency to seize control of all the powers of the state.

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

Strongman Yameen has been defiant in the face of global 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.

The court's shock move in support of the political dissidents on Thursday also included an order for the government to restore the seats of 12 legislators sacked for defecting from Yameen's party.

But the nation lost much of its democratic gains after Yameen, who has maintained a tight grip on power, was elected in 2013. The verdict "resulted in the disruption of the functions of the executive power, and the infringement of national security and public interest".

However the verdict was internationally condemned and he was given political asylum in the United Kingdom the following year after being allowed to travel there for medical treatment. In the event of a dispute about the declaration, the supreme court is meant to rule on its validity.

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