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Maldives political crisis: 'Troubled' US asks Yameen to respect rule of law

The Maldives opposition leader and two Supreme Court judges were arrested today after Yameen declared a 15-day state of emergency

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, former President of Maldives
Policemen arrest former Maldives president and opposition leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, center, after the government declared a 15-day state of emergency in Male, Maldives. Photo: AP/PTI

The US on Tuesday said it was "troubled" and "disappointed" by the declaration of a state of emergency in the by President and asked him to comply with the rule of law and implement the Supreme Court ruling.

The opposition leader and two Supreme Court judges were arrested today after Yameen declared a 15-day state of emergency in the Indian Ocean nation amid a deepening political crisis after the court ordered the release of former president Mohamed Nasheed and other opposition leaders.

The state of emergency will give sweeping powers to security forces to arrest and detain suspects, bans public gatherings, imposes travel restrictions and suspends parts of the Maldivian Constitution.

"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 the president, army, and police failed to obey the Supreme Court ruling, contrary to the Constitution and rule of law.

She said Yameen has "systematically alienated his coalition, jailed or exiled every major opposition political figure" since his election in 2013.

"The US calls on President Yameen, the army, and police to comply with the rule of law, implement the Supreme Court ruling and the rulings of the criminal court, ensure the full and proper functioning of the Parliament, and restore constitutionally guaranteed rights of the people and institutions of the Maldives," Nauert said.

She said Yameen despite being elected in 2013 with the support of a broad coalition has systematically alienated his coalition.

"He has jailed or exiled every major opposition political figure, deprived elected MPs of their right to represent their voters in the legislature, revised laws to erode human rights, especially freedom of expression, and weakened the institutions of government by firing officials who refuse orders that run contrary to Maldivian law and its Constitution," Nauert said.

Nasheed has said that President Yameen has illegally declared martial law.

He asked the US to ensure that all American financial institutions stop all transactions of the Yameen regime's leaders.

He also expressed concern over Yameen's deliberate delay in implementing the Supreme Court ruling to immediately release political prisoners.

Nasheed, 50, the country's first democratically-elected leader -- was sentenced to 13 years in jail on terror charges in March 2015 over the arbitrary arrest of chief criminal judge Abdullah Muhammed during his presidency.

He was granted asylum in the UK after he was authorised to seek medical treatment there amid mounting foreign pressure.

Nasheed was narrowly defeated in 2013 by President Yameen. Nasheed says his conviction on terror charges was politically motivated.

The Maldivian government holds that Nasheed is convicted for a crime and is wanted in the to serve a jail sentence. Nasheed said he will seek UN support to ensure he is allowed to contest this year's election.

First Published: Tue, February 06 2018. 15:51 IST
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