Maldives: President declares State of Emergency, arrests Chief Justice and former President

President Abdulla Yameen declared a State of Emergency in the Maldives last night for 15 days. The Indian Ocean nation has been witnessing turmoil since the court ordered several jailed opposition politicians to be freed.

The political crisis started soon after President Yameen refused to comply with the Supreme Court ruling of Thursday asking the Government to release nine convicted opposition leaders including former President Mohamed Nasheed and to reinstate 12 Parliamentarians who were stripped of their seats last year, giving the opposition a majority in the 85-member house.

In a statement issued after the state of emergency was announced on state television, President Yameen said “though certain rights will be restricted, general movements, services and businesses will not be affected.”

The decree gives the government sweeping power to make arrests and restricts freedom of assembly.

Chief Justice of Maldives Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed were arrested from the Supreme Court at around 3 am after an almost a seven-hour siege of the Supreme Court by security forces. The army scaled the building to the Supreme Court and held staff and judges under military supervision.

The judges were taken to a detention facility outside the capital, Malé.

Judicial administrator Hassan Saeed was also arrested around after midnight and his home was raided for the second time.

The government is investigating charges of bribery of judges and plotting to overthrow the government.

Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who is also half-brother of President Abdulla Yameen, was arrested from his home around 11pm on Monday night. Police broke down the door. Gayoom was taken to a detention facility on the island of Dhoonidhoo.

Joint Opposition has rejected the State of Emergency. “This declaration is unconstitutional and illegal,” former President Mohamed Nasheed, the country’s first democratically elected leader, said in a statement.

Joint Opposition Members of Parliament in their press briefing stated, “The State of Emergency order declared by the regime tonight is in clear violation of the Constitution. The Joint Opposition Members do not accept the validity of this order.”

Shyamal Bikash Chakma

Shyamal Bikash Chakma is Public Editor of The aPolitical and a PhD candidate in Development Studies at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London and recipient of the Felix Scholarship 2017.
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