Maldives crisis deepens; Yameen under fire for dragging feet on court ruling

Violet Powell
February 4, 2018

The opposition led by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) of former President Mohamed Nasheed, has charged that the government has been using tear gas and other coercive instruments to prevent supporters from expressing their joy over the Supreme Court' order to immediately release all jailed opposition leaders including Nasheed. "We won't let that happen", he said.

While President Yameen's term in office will end in November this year, according to the Constitution, the presidential elections are to be held in August. Western countries including USA and United Kingdom have already welcomed the verdict while India has hoped that the ruling will be abided in spirit of democracy.

The apex court also reinstated 12 members of Parliament who had defected to the Opposition and lost their seats past year.

After the court ruling, Nasheed has declared that he can and will contest the elections which should take place this year. In 2013, Nasheed lost a chaotic presidential election to the current president, Yameen, who is the half brother of the longtime ruler.

"In an interaction with TOI in February past year, Nasheen had said that India had a moral obligation to facilitate" inclusive, free and fair elections in the Maldives" in 2018. Last July, when the opposition had enough MPs to impeach the speaker of the parliament - an ally of Mr Yameen - troops were deployed to prevent them entering the building.

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The Joint opposition, comprising of four main opposition parties, in a statement today expressed deep concern over President Yameen's refusal to abide by the Supreme Court order saying it could escalate to unrest and incite violence across the country.

Shortly after Thursday's ruling the police announced on Twitter that it would enforce it.

It called for their immediate release and said the "questionable and politically motivated nature of the trials of the political leaders warrant a re-trial". The opposition also alleged that many employees of government-affiliated companies were forced to come out on the streets on Saturday in support of Yameen for their "fear of unemployment".

The attorney general said Mr Areef had been sacked because he was uncontactable following the court order.

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