Thursday, 22 February, 2018

Maldives President Declares Emergency, Arrests Judges

Former President Mohamed Nasheed Former President Mohamed Nasheed
Lillian Steele | 07 February, 2018, 01:24

The political chaos of Maldives - the honeymoon islands - deepens further after the chief justice and other top judges of the Supreme Court were arrested on Tuesday following proclamation of emergency by President Abdulla Yameen.

The new order on Tuesday came hours after President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency and sent in security forces to storm the Supreme Court building and arrest two judges on the five-member bench.

"The Supreme Court ruling stands in defiance of the highest authority in the country: the constitution", government spokesman Ibrahim Hussain Shihab said in a statement released on Monday.

"The arrest of the Supreme Court Chief Justice and political figures are also reasons for concern".

The sudden reversal capped a crackdown in which police also detained Yameen's half-brother, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who has sided with the opposition, on charges of bribery and trying to overthrow the government.

Last night, the Ministry of External Affairs advised citizens to "defer all non-essential travels" to Male, the capital of Maldives, and other atolls in the tiny island nation.

"We must remove him from power", Mr Nasheed said in a statement.

Under President Yameen, China has increased its influence in the Maldives as part of its "string of pearls" strategy in the Indian Ocean.

The Maldives has been plunged into a political crisis following Thursday's court ruling.

President Abdulla Yameen has refused to comply with a court order to release political prisoners.

Mr Yameen has cracked down on civil liberties since coming to power in 2013, imprisoning or forcing into exile almost every politician who opposes him.

"President Yameen's announcement - which declares a state of emergency, the banning of fundamental freedoms, and the suspension of the Supreme Court - is tantamount to a declaration of martial law in Maldives".

Adding: "We would also like the U.S. government to ensure that United States financial institutions stop all US$ financial transactions of the regime leaders in the Maldives".

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he was "gravely concerned" about the Maldives situation.

He also sought Washington's help for imposing restrictions on the movement of funds of the Maldivian leaders, through USA banks.

"We are working on making sure we can respect the Supreme Court order in a way that doesn't cause any difficulties to the people", he said at a rally in his support organised by his party.

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

She called U.S. officials "troubled and disappointed" by the developments in the Maldives.

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