Maldives declares state of emergency for 15 days

Male, February 5

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen today declared a state of emergency for 15 days in an escalation of a battle with the country’s Supreme Court, which his allies say is trying to bring down the government.

Yameen had earlier defied a Supreme Court ruling to release nine jailed opposition leaders.

Legal Affairs Minister Azima Shakoor announced the emergency in a televised address. Under its terms, judges will no longer be granted special privileges if they face arrest.

“Certain rights will be restricted (but) general movements, services and businesses will not be affected,” the president’s office said in a statement about the emergency.

“The government of Maldives wishes to also assure all Maldivians and the international community that the safety of all Maldivians and foreigners living in and visiting the Maldives, will be ensured,” it said.

Eva Abdulla, an opposition legislator said the latest declaration of State of Emergency “is an indication of President Yameen’s desperation”.

“It only serves to show an isolated man who no longer has the confidence of the Maldivian people and independent institutions. He has no democratic mandate to govern and must resign immediately,” she said in a statement.

Earlier today, opposition leaders urged the international community to pressure President Yameen into obeying a court order to free political prisoners and “restore democracy” to the troubled honeymoon islands.

In a letter addressed to the international community, Maldive opposition lawmakers appealed for external support in persuading Yameen to end the tense standoff with the country’s highest court.

“We request the international community, including India, Sri Lanka, the US, Britain, the EU... to do everything in their power to help return power to the people of the Maldives and restore democracy,” the statement read. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the weekend had called for “restraint” as the crisis escalated.