UN Chief urges Maldives govt. to lift state of emergency

UN Chief urges Maldives govt. to lift state of emergency

UN Chief urges Maldives govt. to lift state of emergency

February 06 (NT): Maldives President Abdulla Yameen announced a 15-day state of emergency on Monday before heavily armed troops stormed the country's Apex court and a former leader was detained in a deepening political crisis.

After Yameen's declaration, police arrested Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Supreme Court Judge Abdulla Hameed.

Exiled former president Mohammed Nasheed, who was among the opposition politicians ordered freed and who is now in neighbouring Sri Lanka, said Mr Yameen "has illegally declared martial law and overrun the state".

The Maldives attorney general on Sunday advised all law enforcement agencies in the country not to comply with any order that is in conflict with the Maldives' Constitution following reports that the Supreme Court may order to impeach President Yameen.

The detained opposition leader, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, is the estranged half-brother of the current president Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Soldiers forced their way into the SC and arrested judges, as police used pepper spray to disperse protesters outside the court.

Yameen called a 15-day state of emergency, deepening a political crisis.

"This is something more risky", President Yameen Abdul Gayoom said on national television.

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The picturesque Indian Ocean archipelago, which has seen a number of political crises since the ouster of its first democratically-elected president Nasheed in 2012, plunged into chaos on Thursday last when the apex court ordered the release of nine imprisoned opposition politicians, maintaining that their trials were "politically motivated and flawed".

And in a televised address, Mr Yameen said: "This is not a state of war, epidemic or natural disaster".

Former President Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically-elected leader of Maldives was charged with terrorism in March 2015 and granted asylum in the United Kingdom after he sought medical treatment there.

In a video message shortly before his arrest, Gayoom said: "I have not done anything to be arrested".

Yameen's moves to shut down parliament and order armed troops to stage a dawn raid on the Supreme Court have sparked worldwide concern and warnings against travel to the upmarket holiday paradise.

"You should avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations", the United States embassy in Colombo said in its updated travel advice on Tuesday.

Yameen did not honour the court orders and declared emergency on Monday night, giving special powers to forces to make arrests and bar public gatherings.

On Saturday, President Gayoom had said he was ready to hold early presidential elections to allow voters to decide who should lead their country.

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