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06th-Feb-2018

Maldives crisis deepens : President declares emergency

By Agency

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen on Monday declared a 15-day state of emergency in the country, a critical turn of events amid a deepening political crisis in the island nation.
The move, announced by the president's close aide Azima Shukooron live television, suspends all basic rights and gives sweeping powers to security forces to arrest and detain suspects.
Yameen, who has run the country with an iron hand since 2013, has been facing mounting pressure at home and from the United States and India to release former president Mohamed Nasheed from a 13-year jail sentence, and free eight other political opponents from prison. The Maldives, home to 400,000 people and best known as a tropical paradise for tourists, has experienced political unrest since Nasheed, the island's 
first democratically-elected leader, was forced to quit amid a mutiny by police in 2012. Earlier in the day, President Yameen said the Supreme Court had overstepped its authority in ordering the release of the imprisoned opposition leaders.
The surprise judicial ruling last week had led to an increasingly tense standoff between President Yameen Abdul Gayoom and the Supreme Court, with protests spilling into the streets of the capital, Male, and soldiers in riot gear deployed to the parliament building to stop lawmakers from meeting.
Yameen, in a letter to the court released by his office, said the order had 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 Supreme Court had ruled that the political leaders' guilty verdicts had been politically influenced.
In addition to ordering the release of the political prisoners, the court also reinstated 12 lawmakers who had been ousted for switching allegiance to the opposition. Had those lawmakers returned, Yameen's Progressive Party of the Maldives would have lost its majority in the 85-member parliament, which could have lost its legislative body functioning as a rival power to the president. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) took cognizance of the development and issued a travel advisory to Indian citizens, asking them to avoid traveling to Maldives for the time being. "Prevailing political developments in Maldives & resultant law and order situation is a matter of concern for Government of India. Indian nationals are advised to defer all non-essential travels to Male and other atolls until further notice. Indian expatriates in Maldives are also alerted to the need for heightened security awareness, and urged to exercise due caution in public and avoid public gatherings," said the MEA.