Maldives President declares emergency, former leader arrested

 Maldives President Abdulla Yameen.

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen.

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’s office said: “During this time, though certain rights will be restricted, general movements, services and businesses will not be affected.”

Ex-President Gayoom arrested

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.

Security forces break into SC

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’s “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.

Second-such time

This is the second time Mr. Yameen has declared a state of emergency. He last took the step in November 2015 after an alleged attempt to assassinate him.

Officials said the President is required to inform the Parliament about any declaration of emergency within two days, but the country's legislature has been suspended indefinitely by authorities.

The Supreme Court on Thursday had also restored the seats of 12 MPs who had defected from Mr. Yameen's party, effectively handing the opposition a majority in the 85-member parliament, making the President vulnerable to impeachment.

(With inputs from AFP)

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Printable version | May 15, 2022 12:32:30 pm |