In the wake of the arrest of a former President, the Chief Justice, and a Supreme Court judge, hours after the government declared a state of emergency on Monday, the Maldives' opposition MPs fear that they may be targeted next, sources in capital Male said.
According to senior lawyer and former Attorney General Husnu Suood, President Abdulla Yameen needs to send his reasons for declaring a state of emergency within 48 hours to Parliament for its approval. “If it is not approved by Parliament, the state of emergency will lapse. For that reason, [opposition] parliamentarians are expected to be arrested today,” he told The Hindu .
Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and the Supreme Court judge were arrested in the early hours of Tuesday , after troops stormed the Supreme Court premises where the judges sought refuge citing “death threats.” Amid heavy police presence opposition supporters gathered outside, protesting Mr. Yameen’s declaration of emergency rule.
On Monday night, Mr. Yameen's estranged half-brother and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, now aligned with the main Opposition, was also arrested in his residence.
“There is an imminent threat [for us],” Opposition MP and lawyer Ali Hussain told The Hindu from Male. “The MPs from opposition could be arrested at any time. The military takeover of the parliament house and the Supreme Court shows that the President may order just anything he wants to be carried out,” he said over telephone.
The high-profile arrests over the last two days have escalated tensions in the capital and heightened concern in the international community. Countries, including India, U.S. and the U.K., have pressured Mr. Yameen to comply with the recent Supreme Court ruling that has since sparked a political crisis in the Indian Ocean island.
On Thursday, the apex court ordered the release of nine dissident leaders, and the restoration of 12 MPs who were earlier expelled for defecting from the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) led by Mr. Yameen. However, the government was reluctant to implement it, citing security concerns. Tightening his grip on power, Mr. Yameen declared the state of emergency five days later.