Published: Wed, February 07, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Former leader, 2 Supreme Court judges arrested in Maldives

Former leader, 2 Supreme Court judges arrested in Maldives

India had said it was imperative for "all organs" of the Maldivian government to abide by the country's Supreme Court order to release all political prisoners "in the spirit of democracy".

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.

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 state of emergency gives security officials extra powers to arrest suspects, the BBC reported.

"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. On Monday, the army began patrolling around the Supreme Court - clearly an effort to show the judges who is in the driving seat.

The protests erupted after President Gayoom refused to follow the Supreme Court's ruling to release the key political prisoners and reinstate the 12 MPs.

"The Government of Maldives wishes to also assure all Maldivians and the worldwide community that the safety of all Maldivians and foreigners living in and visiting the Maldives will be ensured", it added. It is "nothing but a purge of the political opposition, the judiciary and the parliament", she said in a post on Twitter.

Soldiers and police in riot gear set up barricades and cordoned off the streets leading to the court building, according to witnesses.

The court's decision also paved the way for exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed - the nation's first democratically elected leader who was controversially convicted of terrorism in 2015 - to run for president this year.

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"I have not anything to warrant my arrest".

"I call on the soldiers and officers to stop supporting a dictator".

They also called for "all necessary hold government officials accountable for violations of national and global law".

China, Australia and the United States updated their travel advice during the latest unrest. As the situation appears to be spiralling out of control, India, along with the United States, European Union and the United Nations, made an appeal to the Yameen government to respect the court ruling and restore democratic practices.

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.

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".

Earlier in the day, China told its citizens not to visit the Maldives until normalcy returns in the Indian Ocean archipelago nation, which is witnessing political turmoil.

Yameen insisted in a statement on television that "during this time though certain rights will be restricted, general movements, services and businesses will not be affected".

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