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Maldives declares state of emergency amid unrest



President Abdulla Yameen of the Maldives on Monday declared a 15-day state of emergency amid an escalating conflict with the country’s Supreme Court and rising political unrest growing on the island nation.

The country’s highest judicial court had ruled Mr. Yameen should release nine jailed opposition leaders, an order the president has refused.

The Friday order would reinstate 12 Members of Parliaments, restoring the opposition majority, and also ruled the trial for ex-President Mohamed Nasheed was unconstitutional, according to local media.

“Certain rights will be restricted [but] general movements, services and businesses will not be affected,” the president’s office said in a statement.

The government has already suspended the parliament with videos online purportedly showing special forces surrounding the legislature building.

Security forces also reportedly entered the Supreme Court just hours after the announcement of emergency status, with a spokesman saying that there were judges still inside.

The government has fired police officials who said they would follow the court order, and said that any order to arrest the president would be considered illegal.

Opposition MP Eva Abdulla said in a statement that the state of emergency was “a desperate move” that showed the government had “lost everything [including the] confidence of the people and institutions”, reported the BBC.

Mr. Nasheed was the first democratically elected leader of the Maldives, but is currently in Sri Lanka.

Nasheed was convicted under anti-terrorism law for ordering the arrest of a judge, with his conviction and 13-year sentence internationally condemned. He was offered political asylum in the United Kingdom.

Canada’s travel page for the Maldives updated to advise Canadians to “exercise a high degree of caution”  in the country due to petty crimes and “the possibility of civil unrest”.

Global Affairs Canada has not made a foreign affairs statement regarding the tensions at this time.

The Maldives is a former British colony, independent for 53 years, and was ruled in a dictatorship by former President Maumoon Adbul Gayhoom before becoming a multi-party democracy in 2008, according to Al Jazeera.

More details to follow. Image of Abdulla Yameen from The New Indian Express. 

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