Maldives govt warns top court against impeaching president

Police detained two opposition lawmakers as they returned to the country Sunday, as the political crisis in the Indian Ocean archipelago nation deepened with its top court pitted against the president.

Maldives govt warns top court against impeaching president

World Bulletin / News Desk

The beleaguered Maldives government Sunday ordered police and troops to resist any move by the Supreme Court to arrest or impeach President Abdulla Yameen over his refusal to release political prisoners.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said its MPs tried to stage a meeting in defiance of a weekend order suspending parliament, but they were pushed back by armed troops.

Security forces have been deployed inside the national parliament -- known as the People's Majlis -- since March last year when Yameen ordered them to evict dissident lawmakers.

The president's crackdown on dissent has tarnished the Maldives' image as an upmarket holiday paradise and sparked calls from the United Nations and several countries to restore the rule of law in the fledgling democracy.

The Supreme Court on Thursday night ordered the authorities to release nine political dissidents and restore the seats of 12 legislators who had been sacked for defecting from Yameen's party, ruling the cases were politically motivated.

But the Yameen government has so far refused to comply with the shock ruling, resisting international pressure to respect the decision.

In a national television address on Sunday, Attorney General Mohamed Anil remained defiant.

"Any Supreme Court order to arrest the president would be unconstitutional and illegal," Anil said. "So I have asked the police and the army not to implement any unconstitutional order."

The Supreme Court's reinstatement of the dozen legislators gave the opposition a majority in the 85-member assembly, and it can now potentially impeach Yameen.

But authorities shut parliament indefinitely on Saturday to prevent such a move. Yameen also sacked two police chiefs after the court's decision.

Atul Keshap, the US ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, has led international criticism of the Yameen government's refusal to respect court orders.

"What security risk prevents the #Maldives #Majlis from meeting tomorrow? Why are MPs pepper sprayed in the streets and arrested on arrival at airport?" he tweeted Sunday.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Şubat 2018, 15:47