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State of Emergency Maldivian president says lockdown is due to fears of a ‘coup’

MALDIVIAN President Abdulla Yameen said today he had declared a state of emergency in the face of a “coup” plot.

The president spoke on national TV after police stormed the Supreme Court yesterday and arrested two judges overnight along with his half-brother, former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

There has been increasing tension between Mr Yameen’s government and the judiciary. His declaration followed judges’ decisions to free some of the president’s political rivals jailed on treason and terrorism charges, which he has resisted.

 “This state of emergency is the only way I can determine how deep this plot, this coup, goes,” Mr Yameen said a day after declaring the 15-day powers.

“This is not a state of war, epidemic or natural disaster. This is something more dangerous,” he said. “This is an obstruction of the very ability of the state to function.”

British-backed fugitive ex-president Mohammed Nasheed, from his base in nearby Sri Lanka, urged India to invade his country, overthrow its government and free the arrested judges and the prisoners they demanded be freed.

Mr Nasheed said Mr Yameen “has illegally declared martial law and overrun the state. We must remove him from power.”

“We are asking for a physical presence” from India, he said.

Mr Nasheed also urged the US to slap financial sanctions on Maldivian government officials.

There was no immediate response from India or the US, though both have called on Mr Yameen to obey the Supreme Court order.

Riot police stormed the Supreme Court yesterday night and detained Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and one other judge.

Former dictator and opposition leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was witnessed later being quietly escorted from his home by security forces. His lawyer Maumoon Hameed said Mr Gayoom faced charges including bribery and attempting to overthrow the government.

Mr Nasheed was forced from power in 2012 and jailed in 2015 for abuse of his presidential powers. He absconded in January 2016 after being granted leave to fly to Britain for surgery. Former PM David Cameron publicly hosted Mr Nasheed and his lawyer Amal Clooney at 10 Downing Street that month. In May 2016, he was granted asylum in Britain.

He accused Mr Yameen’s government last month of selling his country to the Chinese.


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