The Maldives former president and two Supreme Court judges were arrested early Tuesday hours after the government declared an emergency in the Indian Ocean nation that has been increasingly in turmoil in the days since the court ordered several jailed politicians to be freed.
The charges against former president and opposition leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom include bribery and attempting to overthrow the government, his lawyer, Maumoon Hameed, said on Twitter.
Gayoom was president from 1978 to 2008, when Maldives became a multiparty democracy, and is the half brother of the current president, under whose rule the archipelago has lost many of its democratic gains.
The 15-day emergency decree issued late Monday gives the government sweeping powers to make arrests, search and seize property and restricts freedom of assembly, officials said.
Soon after the declaration, security forces stormed into the Supreme Court building, where Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and judge Ali Hamid were arrested. The charges against them have not been specified. The whereabouts of the court's other two judges were not known Tuesday morning.
Since the surprise, unanimous ruling last week ordering the release of imprisoned opposition leaders, President Yameen Abdul Gayoom has lashed out at the court, opposition protests have into the streets of the capital, Male, and soldiers in riot gear have stopped lawmakers from meeting in the parliament building.
In a statement issued after the state of emergency was announced on state television, Yameen said ``though certain rights will be restricted, general movements, services and businesses will not be affected.''
The turmoil began when President Abdulla Yameen refused to obey a court order to release political dissidents.
The opposition have called the government moves a "purge" and there has been international condemnation.
Maldives is a nation made up of 26 coral atolls and 1,192 individual islands, and tourism is a vital part of its economy.
Last week, the Supreme Court ordered the release of a group of opposition politicians. It also ruled that the 2015 trial of former President Mohamed Nasheed, who is living in exile, had been unconstitutional.
The country's police commissioner said he would enforce the court's ruling - in response, the government of President Yameen sacked him.
The army has now been ordered to resist any attempt to impeach or remove President Yameen.
BDST: 1658 HRS, FEB 6, 2018