Three Maldives Supreme Court justices on Tuesday 6 February annulled their own order to free a group of imprisoned opposition politicians after two of the court’s justices were arrested amid a political crisis in the Indian Ocean archipelago.
The new ruling came as President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom moved to assert his power over the court, declaring a state of emergency and ordering security forces to raid the court compound where the justices were arrested.
The President had defied an earlier ruling of the Supreme Court which revoked terrorism charges against nine leading opposition figures including the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Nasheed and ordered them to be freed.
Former President Nasheed has asked for India to step in and help.
Chinese state-run media cautions India against intervention in the Maldives
Maldives Supreme Court revokes earlier order to release nine high-profile political prisoners
Former President Mohamed Nasheed tweets asking India to send an envoy to end the political crisis
Chief Justice of Maldives Abdulla Saeed & Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed arrested
Maldives Police arrest former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on charges of bribery and attempting to overthrow the government
Also Read: What Is the Maldives Crisis & Why Is The Govt Fighting its Court?
UN Rights Chief Calls on President Yameen To Lift Emergency Immediately
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called on the Maldives government to immediately lift the state of emergency imposed two days ago, calling it to “an all-out assault on democracy”.
Maldives Supreme Court Judge Ill-Treated in Prison: Nasheed
The exiled former president of the Maldives accused authorities on Wednesday of mistreating a supreme court judge thrown into prison following the imposition of a state of emergency in the Indian Ocean island nation.
Judge Ali Hameed was being harshly treated, Nasheed said in a Twitter post. He was granted asylum by Britain after the Male government allowed him to leave jail for medical treatment abroad in 2016.
Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, 80, who was also arrested in the crackdown and sent to a prison island, had stopped eating, Nasheed added.
“I am told President Gayoom is not taking food, while Justice Ali Hameed has been ill treated,” Nasheed said on Twitter, but gave no further details.
However, Dunya Maumoon, Gayoom’s daughter and a minister of state in Yameen’s administration, rejected Nasheed’s comment about her father, telling Reuters: “I just visited my father. He is keeping well. Nasheed is just spreading rumours.”
Also Read: ‘Maldives Being Sold to China’: Ex-Prez Nasheed Urges India to Act
Nasheed Responds to China, Defends India’s Stance in Maldives
Responding to China’s statement asking Maldives to solve the crisis internally, former President Mohamed Nasheed said trying to solve matters internally would escalate chaos in the country. He also went to the extent to clarify that India has always played the role of liberators whenever Maldives was in crisis.
Also Read: India Not an ‘Occupier But Liberator’: Maldives’ Nasheed to China
UN Asks Maldives to Uphold Rule of Law
UN chief Antonio Guterres expressed serious concern over the declaration of a state of emergency in the Maldives and asked the government led by President Abdulla Yameen to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.
Assistant Secretary-General of the UN for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenca spoke by phone with the Maldives’ Foreign Minister and reiterated the Secretary-General’s serious concern about the unfolding situation in the country, in particular the arrest of the Chief Justice.
He asked the Maldivian government to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of all people in the country and to resolve the political crisis through all- party talks, which the UN stands ready to facilitate, Deputy UN Spokesperson Farhan Haq said.
Maldivian Opposition Disappointed at Lack of Help from India
Even as Chinese state media warned India against intervention in the Maldives political crisis, the opposition in the archipelago expressed disappointment at the lack of Indian intervention, TOI reported.
TOI quoted opposition leaders as stating that it was unfortunate that India had thus far not even bothered to send an envoy. The opposition added the allegation that Yameen may be acting under the influence of China. Abdulla Shahid, the former speaker of the Maldivian Parliament, told TOI:
Chinese Media Cautions India Against Intervention
Chinese state-run daily Global Times, in an editorial on 6 February “cautioned” India against “interfering” in the Maldives political crisis.
The editorial piece goes on to add that New Delhi has “no justification” to intervene in the Maldives political crisis.
Maldives Government Welcomes Court’s Revision of Initial Ruling
The Maldives administration in a press release welcomed the Supreme Court’s revision of the 1 February ruling revoking the release of high-profile political prisoners including former President Mohamed Nasheed.
The ruling had also declared that the Judicial Service Commission had no mandate over the Supreme Court Justices, overriding Article 159 of the Constitution which empowers the Judicial Services Commission to appoint, investigate complaints against, and give recommendations for dismissal of judges. This order has also been revoked.
India Expected to Follow SOP on Maldives, To Keep Troops Ready
India is expected to follow a standard operating procedure (SOP) that includes keeping the troops in readiness, government source told PTI.
India, which said it was “disturbed” over the situation in the archipelago, has already issued a travel advisory as part of the SOP but officials would not confirm one of its crucial aspects pertaining to keeping troops on standby.
Sources said troop movement has been seen at a key air- base in Southern India.
According to the SOP, the troops are kept ready to meet any eventuality, crisis or requirement for help, sources said, adding there is nothing unusual about such SOPs.
The Indian Navy patrols sea lanes around Maldives as naval cooperation between the two countries are robust.
Also Read: Maldives Crisis Spirals: Indian Tanks, Special Forces on Standby
Maldives Supreme Court Revokes Order to Release 9 Political Prisoners
Maldives Supreme Court revokes an order to release nine high-profile political prisoners, reported PTI quoting media reports.
Earlier, the Maldives government press release said that President Yameen had lifted the restriction or suspension of Article 145 (c) of the Maldives Constitution which states that the Supreme Court shall be the final authority on the interpretation of the Constitution, the law, or any other matter dealt with by a court of law.
European Union Calls Emergency Blow To Fundamental Freedom
The European Union (EU) has released a statement on the state of Emergency declared in Maldives by president Abdulla Yameen, slamming the crisis and said that fundamental rights and freedoms of the population must be preserved, notably the freedom of expression and the right to peaceful demonstration.
Here is the full statement:
President Lifts Restriction on The Supreme Court’s Authority
According to the Maldives government’s press release, President Abdulla Yameen has revised and issued a second amendment to the Presidential Decree concerning the State of Emergency that was declared on 5 February 2018.
In the revised Presidential Decree issued this evening, President has specified that from the restricted and suspended articles of the Constitution of Maldives during the state of emergency, the new Decree will lift the restriction or suspension of Article 145 (c) of the Maldives Constitution which states that the Supreme Court shall be the final authority on the interpretation of the Constitution, the law, or any other matter dealt with by a court of law.
Disturbed By Declaration of Emergency In Maldives: MEA
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that India is disturbed by the declaration of a State of Emergency in Maldives following the refusal of the government to abide by the unanimous ruling of the full bench of the Supreme Court on 1 February, and also by the suspension of Constitutional rights of the people of Maldives, reported ANI.
MEA also said that the arrest of the Supreme Court Chief Justice and political figures are also reasons for concern and that the Indian government is carefully monitoring the situation.
Indian Army on Standby Following Maldives Crisis?
The Indian army is on standby following state of emergency declaration in the Maldives, as reported by Maldives news organization Rajjee TV.
However, CNN-News18, quoting Army sources said that the Army hasn’t received any information yet and that it would be a political call.
Earlier, Former President Nasheed, whose release was the flashpoint for the Maldives political crisis, had tweeted out asking for India’s help.
Emergency Is To Investigate “This Plot, This Coup” of Supreme Court Ruling: Maldives Prez
Maldives president Abdulla Yameen said the emergency decree is to investigate “this plot, this coup” of Supreme Court ruling, reported The Associated Press.
Earlier, Maldives police arrested Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and the Administrator of the Department of Judicial Administration.
In a Twitter message, the police said they had arrested Saeed and Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed “for an ongoing investigation”.
China Upgrades Travel Warning to Maldives, Asks Citizens to Cancel Plans
China upgraded its travel warning for its citizens visiting the Maldives for holidays, asking them to cancel their plans after an emergency was declared by embattled President Abdulla Yameen in the island nation whose economy relies heavily on Chinese tourists.
Following up on yesterday’s travel advisory, asking Chinese citizens to not to travel to the Maldives, a favourite destination for locals, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang upgraded the travel alert, saying they should cancel their plans in view of spiralling political crisis there.
The Spring Festival holiday, which includes Chinese New Year celebrations is peak season for Chinese citizens to travel to the Maldives for tourism.
“In the light of the latest situation in Maldives Chinese Foreign Ministry adjusted the security alert level and asked the Chinese citizens to closely follow the local situation and not to travel to Maldives,” he told a media briefing here.
Without directly commenting on the UN, US and India’s criticism of the handling of situation by Yameen, Geng said, “We believe the Maldives government, political parties and people has the wisdom and the capability to deal with their current situation on their own.”
Former Vice President Urges President Yameen to “Stop Terrorising” Supreme Court
Maldives’ former vice president Mohamed Jameel Ahmed posted a tweet urging President Yameen to “stop terrorising” the Supreme Court, and urged him to release the judges and let Parliament function normally.
He also urged the international community to step in and take firm action to “restore democracy” to the Maldives.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed Asks For India’s Help
Former President Nasheed, whose release was the flashpoint for the Maldives political crisis, has now tweeted out asking for India’s help. Will this result in another intervention from India, like Operation Cactus in 1988?
Nasheed, who is currently in Sri Lanka, also urged the United States to block financial transactions of the government led by President Abdulla Yameen.
Former President Abdul Gayoom Releases Video Ahead of Arrest
Ahead of his arrest, former President Abdul Gayoom put out a video on Twitter, stating that he had done nothing to warrant an arrest. In the video, he’s seen urging the citizens to “remain steadfast in their resolve,” and saying that he will not give up on his work.
Abdul Gayoom, Former President, MaldivesI have not done anything to be arrested. I urge you to remain steadfast in your resolve too. We will not give up on the reform work we are doing.
US Urges President Yameen to Comply With SC Order
The US said it was “troubled” and “disappointed” by reports of declaration of state of emergency in Maldives and urged President Abdulla Yameen to comply with the rule of law and implement the Supreme Court ruling.
“The US is troubled and disappointed by reports that Maldivian President Yameen has declared a state of emergency,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said.
She said Yameen, despite being elected in 2013 with the support of a broad coalition, has systematically alienated his coalition.
Two Supreme Court Judges Arrested
Maldives police arrested Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and the Administrator of the Department of Judicial Administration.
In a Twitter message, the police said they had arrested Saeed and Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed “for an ongoing investigation”. They gave no details about the allegations or charges against the two.
ANI shared a photo of the Maldivian Chief Justice being taken away in a police vehicle.
UK Foreign Secy Boris Johnson ‘Gravely Concerned’
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson issued a press release saying his government was gravely concerned about the declaration of a state of emergency in the Maldives.
He also urged President Yameen and the Government of Maldives “to peacefully end the state of emergency, restore all articles of the constitution, take immediate steps to implement in full the order of the Supreme Court, and to permit and support the full, free and proper functioning of Parliament.”
General Movements and Services Won’t be Affected, Despite Emergency: MFA
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Maldives tweeted that despite a state of emergency being imposed in the country, normal life would not be disrupted. The tweets added that transport and services would be operational without hindrances.
‘Raajje TV’ Shutdown Imminent, Signals Disrupted
Twitter accounts of a 24-hour TV station in the Maldives ‘Raajje TV’ were hacked and their broadcast signals interrupted in several islands.
The TV channel tweeted saying they have no security but they ‘will continue to work for the people of the Maldives till the last minute’.
Maldives Police Arrest Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom
Maldives police arrested former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, his spokesman Abdul Aleem told Reuters.
Gayoom, who is Yameen’s half-brother and ruled the country for 30 years until 2008, was arrested at his residence, along with his son-in-law. Yameen has defied a Supreme Court ruling ordering jailed opposition leaders to be freed, including Gayoom’s son Farish, an opposition lawmaker.
Gayoom was arrested on charges that include bribery and attempting to overthrow the government, his lawyer, Maumoon Hameed, said on Twitter. Gayoom was the archipelago’s president from 1978 to 2008.
Maldives Security Forces Break into the Supreme Court: Court Spokesman
Maldives security forces broke into the Supreme Court on Monday, court spokesman Faisal Adam told Reuters, hours after President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency for 15 days, in an escalation of a legal battle with the archipelago’s top court.
India Issues Travel Advisory, US Urges to Respect Rule of Law
Following the announcement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued an advisory asking Indians to defer all non-essential travels to the Maldives due to the prevailing law and order situation.
Also Read: Emergency Declared in Maldives, India Issues Travel Advisory
The United States also called on the Maldives government and military to respect the rule of law after the emergency was declared.
“America stands with the people of Maldives. The Maldivian government and military must respect the rule of law, freedom of expression, and democratic institutions. The world is watching,” the White House National Security Council said in a post on Twitter.
The US Department of State issued a statement slamming the state of emergency declared in Maldives.
China’s foreign ministry also advised Chinese citizens to avoid visiting the Maldives until political tensions subside on the Indian Ocean archipelago.
Also Read: Maldives Crisis Deepens; India, US & China Issue Advisories
15-Day State of Emergency Declared in Maldives
The Maldives government declared a 15-day state of emergency Monday as the political crisis deepened in the Indian Ocean nation amid an increasingly bitter standoff between the president and the Supreme Court.
A surprise Supreme Court ruling, last week, ordering the release of imprisoned opposition leaders has led to growing turmoil, with President Yameen Abdul Gayoom lashing out at the court, opposition protests spilling into the streets of the capital, Male, and soldiers in riot gear being deployed to the parliament building to stop lawmakers from meeting.
The president’s main rival urged people not to obey what he called an “unlawful order”.
“This declaration is unconstitutional and illegal,” former President Mohamed Nasheed, the country’s first democratically elected leader, said in a statement. Nasheed, who lives in exile, was one of the opposition leaders that the court ordered freed.
The extent of the emergency order was not immediately clear.
After the state of emergency was announced on state television, Yameen, in a statement, said:
Yameen, in a letter to the court, released by his office earlier on Monday, 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.
Officials say the court has not properly responded to a series of letters citing problems with implementing the order, including that the cases against the political prisoners are at different legal stages. A Supreme Court statement on Sunday said “there are no obstacles in implementing the ruling … and that this has been informed to the Prosecutor General’s office.”
The Supreme Court ruled that the politicians’ guilty verdicts had been politically influenced. The ruling has led to protests by opposition supporters urging the government to obey the order. Clashes have erupted between police and the opposition supporters. Soldiers have occupied the Parliament building to stop lawmakers from entering.
The United Nations and several foreign governments, including the United States, have urged the Maldives to respect the court order.
Nasheed has been living in exile in Britain since 2016 after being given asylum when he traveled there on medical leave from prison.
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. When those lawmakers return, Yameen’s Progressive Party of the Maldives will lose its majority in the 85-member parliament, which could result in the legislative body functioning as a rival power to the president.
Known for its luxury tourist resorts, the Maldives became a multiparty democracy 10 years ago after decades of autocratic rule by the current president’s half brother, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
But the nation lost much of its democratic gains after Yameen, who has maintained a tight grip on power, was elected in 2013. He had been set to run for re-election, this year, virtually unopposed, with all of his opponents either jailed or exiled.
On Friday, Nasheed said he would mount a fresh challenge for the presidency, this year. Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in prison after he was convicted under the Maldives’ anti-terror laws. The trial was widely condemned by international rights groups.