Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Declares 15-Day Emergency, Chief Justice Arrested

| February 6 , 2018 , 10:28 IST

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen facing pressure to comply with a directive of the Maldivian Supreme Court to release political 'prisoners', on Monday evening declared a 15-day state of emergency in the nation. In the early hours of Tuesday, the Maldives Opposition leader, a judge of the Supreme Court and the nation's Chief Justice were arrested.  

Under the 15-day emergency decree, the government has sweeping powers to make arrests, search and seize property and restrict freedom of assembly, officials said. President Yameen, in a statement after the announcement of the state of emergency, said, "though certain rights will be restricted, general movements, services and businesses will not be affected."

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Soon after the declaration of emergency, security forces arrested Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Judge Ali Hamid from the Supreme Court building, although the charges against them have not been specified.

Regarding the release of the political prisoners and 12 lawmakers of the opposition party, Yameen, in a letter to the court released by the president's office, said that the Supreme Court's directive to release the prisoners encroached on the powers of the state and was an "infringement of national security and public interest." He urged the court to "review the concerns" of the government.

The release of the political prisoners and Opposition lawmakers would have resulted in President Yameen's party losing its majority in the government.

The US criticised the emergency declaration, with State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert saying that Yameen has "systematically alienated his coalition, jailed or exiled every major opposition political figure" since his election in 2013. Meanwhile, India has issued an advisory against travelling to the island nation.