'Ruling party call to shutdown Raajje TV is a warning to free media

Opposition aligned Raajje TV on Sunday labelled the ruling party calls to shutdown the station as a warning to free media in the country.

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) earlier Sunday called on the relevant authorities to immediately shutdown Raajje TV accusing the television station of creating discord and instability in the country.

The island nation has been plunged into fresh political turmoil after the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the immediate release of jailed political leaders including self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed.

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) deputy leader Abdul Raheem Abdulla during an impromptu press conference on Sunday accused Raajje TV of promoting opposition propaganda to incite instability in the country.

The Fonadhoo lawmaker called on the relevant authorities to shutdown the television station with the aid of the security forces.

"We must not allow Raajje TV to give Nasheed the chance to say whatever he wants on live television," Raheem had said.

In response to Raheem's comments, Raajje TV in a statement expressed deep concern describing it as a stark warning to all journalists and media outlets in the country.

"Even though freedom of expression is a right guaranteed under the constitution and international conventions, the ruling party calling to shutdown Raajje TV is an archaic and an undemocratic act," the statement read.

Raajje TV also said the station only strives to bring the developments at such a critical juncture to the people on a timely basis. Calls to shutdown the station is a blatant move by the government to violate the laws and regulations governing the country, the statement added.

More than two days after the Supreme court ordered the immediate release of as many as nine political prisoners, government has thus far refused to comply.

In addition to Nasheed, the other top political leaders named in the order included Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim, religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla, former defence minister Mohamed Nazim, former vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor and deposed ruling party leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's lawmaker son Faris Maumoon.

The others named in the order included former prosecutor general Muhthaz Muhsin, magistrate Ahmed Nihan and Adheeb's brother in law Hamid Ismail.

The court had also annulled its anti-defection ruling and ordered the country's electoral watchdog to re-instate the dozen government lawmakers disqualified over the ruling. The Supreme Court said the anti-defection ruling was issued as a temporary solution to the constitutional dispute case filed by the state but insisted that the relevant authorities have failed to bring to effect an anti-defection law specified in the ruling.

The reinstatement of the 12 lawmakers disqualified by the country's elections commission would mean that the united opposition would now have parliament majority which has the power to impeach the president.

Government meanwhile, confirmed a Supreme Court led move to have incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom arrested.

AG Mohamed Anil flanked by the army and police chief earlier Sunday had said the government has received information that a Supreme Court order to arrest president Yameen was imminent.

However, AG labelled the move as "unconstitutional" and the police and the army would reject any order by the Supreme Court to have the president arrested.

Chief of defence force Major General Ahmed Shiyam said the army would only act in accordance with the laws and constitution, adding that it would follow the legal advice of the attorney general.

"The army would not stand by watch while the Maldives goes into a crisis. The army would not obey an unconstitutional order," Shiyam insisted.

Newly appointed police chief Abdulla Nawaz echoed the army chief's statement.

The latest development comes amid accusations that the opposition had bribed some of the judges on the Supreme Court bench to influence the ruling.