Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen on Thursday lifted a state of emergency imposed 45 days back when the country had plunged into a political and constitutional crisis following a Supreme Court order in February for release of nine political prisoners including exiled opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed.
The release would have paved the way for Nasheed to return from self-imposed exile in London and contest presidential elections later this year.
Yameen refused to carry out the court order and instead invoked the emergency which curtailed the powers of the judiciary and the legislature.
He arrested the chief justice and another Supreme Court judge. The remaining judges revoked an earlier decision to reinstate 12 MPs who had been sacked for defecting to the opposition while Yameen also stripped parliament of its power to impeach him.
An official statement blamed two justices of the Supreme Court for the constitutional crisis that led to the Emergency.
It accused them of conspiring “with political actors to violate both the Constitution and standard legal norms and practices in order to illegally overthrow a lawful Government.’’
The statement called their actions “an imminent threat to national security.”
“The State of Emergency was declared by a Presidential Decree issued on 5 February 2018 for national security reasons. It was extended via a resolution of the Parliament on 20 February 2018 for a period of 30 days, applicable only to those under investigation for crimes relating to the Constitutional Crisis,” the statement said.
Yameen had been widely expected to let the tough laws lapse on Thursday after authorities charged former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and several senior judges with “terrorism” this week.
Nasheed said Yameen had allowed the emergency to end because he no longer had any need for it. “He has overrun the judiciary and legislature, arrested hundreds unlawfully and introduced a ‘new normal’ in the #Maldives – full dictatorship,” Nasheed tweeted. “We will not give up, we will fight and we will overcome.”
In a statement later, he criticised other nations for not intervening to end the political crisis.
“It is sad that the international community has still not got their act together,” Nasheed said, accusing the Maldives regime of being a “puppet state controlled by China”. The Maldivian government has been accused of targeting opposition leaders. Many of them have been jailed. They include Gayoom,
Gayoom, Yameen’s estranged half brother, ruled the country for 30 straight years before losing to Nasheed in the nation’s first democratic elections in 2008. The 80-year-old former strongman was arrested earlier last month accused of trying to topple Yameen. —With agency inputs