Maldives' SC scraps order to free political prisoners

Maldivian Supreme Court rescinds ruling to release opposition leaders

The president of the Maldives said Tuesday he ordered a state of emergency to investigate "this plot, this coup" involving a Supreme Court ruling last week that ordered the release of imprisoned opposition leaders, including many of his political rivals.

Former President Mohammad Nasheed on Tuesday sought India's direct and swift intervention.

Chief Justice of Maldives Abdulla Saeed and another judge, Ali Hameed, were arrested hours after President Yameen declared a state of emergency on Monday.

India has so far remained a virtual spectator to the alarming development in Male and merely issued a couple of statement even though the Opposition parties in Maldives are making distress calls to New Delhi for diplomatic intervention and military aid.

"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.

China, the US, India and the United Kingdom are among those issuing warnings to travellers in the Maldives.

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

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The spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was seriously concerned about the declaration of a state of emergency and the entry of security forces into the supreme court premises.

The island nation has been embroiled in fresh political turmoil after the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the immediate release of as many as nine people and also prohibited the judicial watchdog from probing any case against the top court bench.

"In the light of the latest situation in the Maldive Chinese Foreign Ministry adjusted the security alert level and asked the Chinese citizens to closely follow the local situation and not to travel to the Maldives", Geng said.

The decree gives the government sweeping powers to make arrests, search and seize property, and restricts freedom of assembly.

The UK's Foreign Office said British nationals in the capital, Male, should "exercise caution and avoid any protests or rallies", but that outlying islands and resorts - and the global airport - were not affected.

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was also arrested shortly after the state of emergency was declared on charges of plotting to overthrow the government. Mr Gayoom is the current president's half-brother.

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