State of emergency declared; security forces break into Supreme Court
MALE/COLOMBO — Feb. 5, 2018: Maldives police arrested former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom today, his spokesman Abdul Aleem 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.
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.
Security forces also stormed the Supreme Court in signs that a crisis over a jailed former president is coming to a head.
Yameen has run the Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, with an iron hand since 2013. But he faces mounting pressure at home and from the United States and India to release former president Mohamed Nasheed from a 13-year jail sentence and free eight other opponents from prison.
The emergency comes after Yameen earlier defied the court’s ruling to free the opposition leaders.
“The president has been compelled to declare a state of emergency, due to the risk currently posed to national
security,” said a statement from the president’s office. “Implementation of the Supreme Court ruling is – in its current form – incompatible with maintenance of public safety.”
A number of countries including China, the US and India — issued travel advisories for the Maldives, a nation of
400,000 people best known as a beach paradise for tourists.