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Maldives govt says security issues prompted parliament lock down

President Yameen ordered troops to evict legislators & prevent speaker's impeachment: Opposition

AFP | PTI  |  Colombo 

The country's exiled main opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed called the eviction illegal

The Maldivian today defended its controversial deployment of troops to block opposition entering parliament, saying the move was part of security measures undertaken for a visiting dignitary.

Yesterday President ordered troops to evict and prevent the of his speaker, the opposition said, in the latest turmoil in the honeymoon islands.

Yameen's office said in a statement that the legislature was shut as part of tight security measures undertaken for the country's 52nd anniversary of independence tomorrow and an "incoming VVIP visit".

Prime Minister will be the chief guest at the celebrations during his three-day visit starting today, the High Commission in said.

"The special measures taken by the security forces at the building on 24 July 2017 were to ensure the security and safety of the premises, as mandated by the... constitution," Yameen's office said.

The main opposition Maldivian Party (MDP) said several MPs broke through a cordon only to be pepper sprayed and evicted from the building yesterday.

The country's exiled main opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed called the eviction illegal.

Earlier in the day, parliament's gates were padlocked by members of the armed forces and MPs were prevented from entering the parliamentary compound.

The opposition this month secured enough support from defectors to begin proceedings against the speaker, in a bid to wrest control of from Yameen before presidential elections next year.

However, in a statement today, the parliament secretariat said the was declared invalid and the next sittings will be on July 31.

The first attempt to impeach the speaker in March sparked chaos when Yameen ordered troops to enter parliament and remove dissenting opponents by force.

The political turbulence has seen the community, including the United States, urging the to safeguard democracy.

The opposition coalition, led by Nasheed, wants to defeat Yameen at elections next year but faces an uphill battle.

All their key leaders are imprisoned or have fled to avoid a lengthy crackdown on dissent under Yameen's leadership.

The instability has dented the Maldives' image as a tourist paradise.

Nasheed became the first democratically-elected president in 2008, but was narrowly defeated by Yameen in a controversial 2013 election run-off.

In 2015, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison on charges that were widely seen as politically motivated. He now lives in exile in

First Published: Tue, July 25 2017. 14:58 IST