High-profile arrests made in Maldives amid state of emergency

Maldives: Release Supreme Court judges and opposition politicians immediately

Maldives: Release Supreme Court judges and opposition politicians immediately

The request from exiled former President Mohammed Nasheed on Tuesday came as Maldives security forces stormed the Supreme Court building overnight, arresting two judges and later a top opposition politician, after the government declared a state of emergency.

As India closely monitors the situation in Maldives, almost 30 years ago, it was the Indian government which solved the political crisis in the island nation and successfully foiled a coup to overthrow the then Maldives president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. The remaining three judges of the Supreme Court said they were withdrawing their earlier order "in light of the concerns raised by the president", AFP reported.

It said the judges, upon considering concerns raised by the president, had made a decision to "annul" a section ordering the release and re-trial of the nine people, seven of whom are imprisoned in the Maldives.

"Indian nationals are, therefore, advised to defer all non-essential travels to Male and other atolls until further notice".

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As New Delhi weighs its options, a former diplomat who was part of previous Indian interventions in the Maldives, including in 1988, when Indian troops defeated a coup d'etat against then President Gayoom, said it would be a mistake to see the situation there in isolation. "We must remove him from power", said Nasheed, the first democratically elected leader of the Maldives, in a statement issued on Tuesday.

"We have managed to ensure the failure of the coup attempt by some people", Defence Minister Adam Shareef Umar said on state television.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) issued a yellow travel alert Tuesday for the Maldives, an island group in the Indian Ocean, due to a political crisis in the country. Concerned over the turmoil, India said it was "disturbed" at the declaration of emergency by the Maldivian government and described as a matter of "concern" the arrests of the CJ and political figures. The government announced a 15-day state of emergency Monday night, giving it sweeping powers, including to make arrests, search and seize property and restrict freedom of assembly. Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who has allied himself with the opposition, was also detained at his home. Mr Gayoom is the current president's half-brother. "I had to declare an emergency because there was no other way to investigate these judges", Yameen said in a televised address to the nation.

She added, "President Yameen's refusal to implement the ruling puts him outside his constitutional mandate".

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