Demonstrators were on the streets of Male, the Maldives capital, on Friday protesting the previous day’s arrest of the leader of the main opposition party, officials said.

The Maldives National Defence Force took People’s Alliance party chief Abdullah Yameen Gayoom into custody on Thursday, claiming it was at his request and for his own protection.

The Supreme Court recently ruled that Mr. Yameen should be released from the house arrest imposed on him while cooperating with the police on an enquiry into bribery and treason charges.

The defence force refused to bring him to a court hearing as requested by the judge and took him into military custody instead, prompting his supporters to protest and clash with supporters of the ruling Maldives Democratic Party.

The president’s office released a statement on Friday saying that “the government will take legal action against those who have engaged in unrest in Male”, and accusing Yameen’s supporters of instigating the violence.

The tourism—dependent country has been in turmoil since the cabinet resigned on June 29 protesting blocking tactics by the parliamentary opposition, who have a slim majority in the Maldivian Majlis.

The cabinet was restored on July 8 after Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa intervened.

Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed was elected in October 2008, ending 30 years of autocratic rule of the Indian Ocean island nation by Mohammed Abdul Gayoom.


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