Amid political unrest, Maldives declares state of emergency

Maldives back on boil afer apex court frees Mohamed Nasheed Opp leaders

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen declared a 15-day state of emergency after refusing to comply with a Supreme Court order to release detained political leaders.

"So in light of the said concerns, I believe that the order to release the jailed prisoners can not be enforced in accordance with the constitution, the judicial process", Maldives President said, asking the Chief Justice to "reconsider".

In addition to ordering the release of the political prisoners, the court also reinstated 12 politicians who had been ousted for switching allegiance to the opposition.

'Certain rights will be restricted (but) general movements, services and businesses will not be affected, ' the president's office had said in a statement about the emergency. This, he said, sets unsafe legal precedents. "We are asking for a physical presence". "I urge you to remain steadfast in your resolve, too", he told supporters.

There was no immediate response from India. Yameen was elected in 2013 and is up for election this year, but remains virtually unopposed as his political opponents have been jailed or exiled.

A Supreme Court statement said "there are no obstacles in implementing the ruling ... and that this has been informed to the Prosecutor General's office". Meanwhile, almost a thousand protesters gathered outside the court, where some judges have sought refuge since Sunday following "death threats". But Modi called off a visit to Maldives in 2015 during a tour of Sri Lanka, Seychelles and Mauritius following reports of a crackdown by Yameen on the opposition.

In a message on twitter, Gayoom said his arrest was unlawful.

His lawyer, Maumoon Hameed, said Gayoom faced charges including bribery and attempting to overthrow the government. Tourism now dominates the economy, with wealthy foreigners flown to hyper-expensive resort islands.

The 37 signatories to the resolution are all members of the joint Opposition coalition, which opposes President Yameen's rule.

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The ruling may allow Nasheed, who was the nation's first democratically elected President, to challenge Yameen when he seeks re-election later this year. But he and Gayoom are now political allies in an opposition alliance.

Yameen earlier defied a Supreme Court ruling, in which he was ordered to release nine jailed opposition leaders - including a former president.

"The Maldivian government and military must respect the rule of law, freedom of expression, and democratic institutions".

Under its terms, judges will no longer be granted special privileges if they are facing arrest.

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in prison after he was convicted of the abduction charge under the Maldives' anti-terror laws in a trial that was widely condemned by worldwide rights groups.

Mr Nasheed has been living in exile in Britain since 2016 after being given asylum when he travelled there on medical leave from prison.

The army, which has said it will not obey an unconstitutional order, and the police force appear to be rallying behind Yameen, and a top police officer who said the court's order would be enforced was hastily dismissed by the attorney general.

The United States urged government restraint on Monday.

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