The Maldives government on Monday declared a state of emergency for 15 days, before heavily armed troops stormed the country’s apex court and a former President was arrested amid a spiralling political crisis that followed a surprise Supreme Court ruling last week.In an announcement, President Abdulla Yameen office said: “During this time, though certain rights will be restricted, general movements, services and businesses will not be affected.”
Former Maldives President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was arrested on Monday shortly after the state of emergency was declared, according to Mr. Gayoom’s daughter.The 80-year-old, who was President for 30 years until the country’s first democratic elections in 2008, was taken away from his home in the capital Male, Yumna Maumoon said on Twitter.Mr. Gayoom had sided with the main Opposition and was campaigning for the toppling of his half-brother.
Less than an hour after Mr. Yameen declared the state of emergency, troops stormed the Supreme Court Premises, sources and Opposition members said.The developments come five days after the Supreme Court ordered the immediate release of nine Opposition leaders, including exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed. The court also ordered that 12 MPs, expelled earlier, be reinstated. Emergency rule gives security officials extra powers to arrest dissidents, according to sources.
Opposition leaders said the emergency was an indication of Mr. Yameen “desperation.” Mr. Nasheed said the banning of fundamental freedoms, and the suspension of the Supreme Court was “tantamount to a declaration of martial law.” Terming it “unconstitutional and illegal,” he said in a statement that “nobody in the Maldives is required to, nor should, follow this unlawful order.”
The government has come under criticism worldwide for its refusal to obey the court order.
The court’s surprise move on Thursday gave Yameen’s opponents the majority in the 85-member assembly, meaning they could potentially impeach the president.
In a stunning blow to the regime, it also paved the way for exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed — the first democratically elected but who was controversially convicted of terrorism in 2015 — to return and run for president this year.
But the Yameen government has so far refused to comply with the ruling, shuttering parliament and on Sunday ordering police and troops to resist any move by court to arrest or impeach Yameen.
The crisis intensified Monday as Yameen’s aide Azima Shukoor announced the state of emergency on national television.
“The reason for the declaration is that the Supreme Court’s ruling was obstructing the functioning of the government,” Azima said.
The emergency declaration gives sweeping powers to security forces to arrest and detain individuals, curtails the powers of the judiciary and bars parliament from impeaching Yameen.
But it must be officially conveyed to parliament within two days, according to officials.
Opposition legislator Eva Abd
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