Maldives pres declares state of emergency

Embattled Maldives president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on Monday declared a state of emergency in the Indian Ocean archipelago amid an ongoing standoff with the country's Supreme Court.

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.

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

The desperate move came after president Yameen's last ditch attempt to convince the top court to revoke the order failed after the apex court rejected the government's 'legal and judicial' concerns over the order.

President Yameen has declared emergency state for 15 days and suspended as many as 20 constitutional rights for the duration along with the criminal procedure Act and several articles of the judicature Act.

Constitutional rights suspended

  • Article 24 - Right to privacy
  • Article 29 - Freedom of acquiring and imparting knowledge
  • Article 31 - Right to strike
  • Article 32 - Freedom of assembly
  • Article 43 - Fair administrative action
  • Article 44 - Personal liability
  • Article 45 - No unlawful arrest or detention
  • Article 46 - Power of arrest and detention
  • Article 47 - Search and seizure
  • Article 49 - Release of accused
  • Article 50 - Prompt investigation and prosecution
  • Article 56 - Right to appeal
  • Article 58 - Compensation
  • Article 65 - Application to court to obtain a remedy
  • Article 99 - Summoning persons to parliament
  • Article 100 - Removal of President or Vice President by parliament
  • Article 101 - Vote of no confidence in a member of the Cabinet
  • Article 113 - Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court
  • Article 145 (C) - Final say of the Supreme Court on constitutional interpretation or a court of law
  • Article 228 - Removal of prosecutor general from office

The announcement was read out by the legal affairs minister Azima Shakoor on state television, flanked by attorney general Mohamed Anil.

The constitutional rights suspended president Yameen has effectively quashed any moves by the opposition to impeach him while also stripping the Supreme Court of any authority.

Judicature Act articles suspended

  • Article 12 - Matters adjudicated by the High Court
  • Article 14 - Supreme Court hearings

The judicature Act articles suspended by the president further constricts the powers of the top court and its jurisdiction to overrule the High Court.

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.