February 21, 2018

Maldives court reverses decision to free opponents of President Yameen from prison

07 February 2018, 01:25 | Kara Nash

Maldives court reverses decision to free opponents of President Yameen from prison

Maldivian Supreme Court rescinds ruling to release opposition leaders

"In the spirit of democracy and rule of law, it is imperative for all organs of the government of Maldives to respect and abide by the order of the apex court", the External Affairs said in a statement.

The emergency comes after Yameen earlier defied the court's ruling to free the opposition leaders.

Tuesday, Yameen accused the chief justice and the high court of pushing for his impeachment from office.

According to reports, Maldives former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, chief justice of Supreme Court Abdulla Saeed and another judge Ali Hameed have been arrested.

On February 1, the Maldives' Supreme Court overturned terrorism charges against nine opponents of Yameen and ordered the release of those opposition leaders jailed and the restitution of 12 opposition legislators.

He sent in security forces to storm the Supreme Court building and ordered the arrest of his estranged half-brother, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who has sided with the opposition.

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

The Supreme Court's reinstatement of the dozen legislators gave the opposition a majority in the 85-member assembly, and it can now potentially impeach Yameen.

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After Yameen declared a 15-day emergency on Tuesday, Nasheed called on India, the main regional power, to intervene.

This is the second time Yameen has declared a state of Emergency.

Nasheed has also urged the United States "to stop all financial transactions of Maldives regime leaders going through U.S. banks". This declaration is unconstitutional and illegal.

Observers say China faced a similar situation in Sri Lanka when its close ally and the then president Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated in 2015 elections creating crisis situation for Chinese strategic investments. "This is something more risky", President Yameen Abdul Gayoom said on national television.

President Yameen, who has been in office since 2013, faces mounting pressure at home and from the United States and India to obey the court's order.

"We believe the Maldives government and political parties have the wisdom and the capability to deal with the current situation on their own", Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said during his regular media briefing.

Among the options on the table are: targeted travel ban for top brass of Yameen government, restricting visas for Maldives nationals to India, squeezing aid and trade with the island nation. In 1988, India had helped the then President Gayoom to thwart a coup attempt against him, by deploying its military in the Indian Ocean nation.

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