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Maldives army seals off parliament, arrests MPs

International Desk |
Update: 2018-02-04 7:17:35 AM
Maldives army seals off parliament, arrests MPs

Security forces of Maldives on Sunday (February 04) sealed off the country’s parliament and arrested two opposition MPs amid a deepening crisis over President Abdulla Yameen's refusal to free jailed politicians.

Al Jazeera reports that the soldiers in riot gear surrounded the parliament building in Male after the opposition petitioned the parliament to remove the island nation's attorney general and its chief prosecutor.

They accuse the pair of breaking the law by failing to act on a Supreme Court verdict overturning terrorism convictions against nine dissidents, including exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed.

The apex court's ruling has plunged the Maldives into fresh political turmoil and dealt a major blow to Yameen, who is accused of corruption, misrule and rights abuses.  He denies the allegations.

This verdict also gave the opposition a majority in the 85-member parliament as it reinstated 12 members of parliament who were stripped of their seats last year. But two of the 12 were arrested in the airport on Sunday, shortly after they returned to the Maldives after months in exile.

Abdulla Sinan and Ilham Ahmed were detained on charges of bribery.

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, leader of the opposition in parliament, condemned the arrest in a statement. “We call on the police to release the MPs immediately, and to stop following unlawful order,” he said.

“In a desperate attempt to cling onto power, President Yameen has illegally overrun the state: his Attorney General has illegally assumed the powers of the apex court, while the military has overrun the legislature,” he said.  

The motion to remove Attorney General Mohamed Anil came hours after he accused the Supreme Court of trying to impeach president of that country.

“I have informed the law enforcement agencies they must not obey such an illegal order,” he said in a televised appearance flanked by the chiefs of army and the police.

Army chief Ahmed Shiyam said that the security forces would follow Anil's advice and "will not wait and watch as the Maldives descends into crisis".

Later, in a ceremony broadcast live on state TV, Shiyam led soldiers and police officers in reciting their oath at the military headquarters.

On the other hand, the official who heads the parliament secretariat has also resigned. “I have stepped down,” Ahmed Mohamed said.

Following the ruling, Speaker Abdulla Maseeh called off the opening of the parliament, scheduled for February 05. In a text message to MPs, he cited unspecified "security concerns" for the cancellation.

Nashee called for protests and urged rank-and-file members of the security forces to arrest the attorney general well as the chiefs of the army and police.

BDST: 1815 HRS, FEB 04, 2017

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