Maldives top court orders to hold off on MPs' reinstatement

Maldives top court late Sunday ordered the relevant institutions to hold off on the reinstatement of a dozen opposition lawmakers ahead of a special sitting on Monday.

Parliament earlier Sunday had scheduled a special sitting for Monday which is widely believed to be in connection to the state of emergency.

The island nation has been embroiled in fresh political turmoil after the Supreme Court on February 1 ordered the immediate release of jailed political leaders including self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed.

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom had declared a 15 day state of emergency after his last ditch attempt to convince the top court to revoke the order failed as the apex court rejected the government's 'legal and judicial' concerns over the order.

Though the state of emergency which would expire on Tuesday, the constitution states that the parliament must decide on the emergency within 14 days if it is not in session at the time of the declaration.

The court had also annulled its anti-defection ruling and ordered the country's electoral watchdog to re-instate the dozen rebel 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 revoke or extend the state of emergency.

President Yameen has used the rights suspended under emergency state to crackdown hard on the opposition as police have made a series of high profile arrests including Gayoom, three lawmakers, chief justice Abdulla Saeed, top court judge Ali Hameed and the chief judicial administrator.

Less than a day after the arrest of the two judges, the remaining three judges rescinded its ruling to release the political leaders referring to the concerns raised by president Yameen in the letters he had sent to the chief justice hours before state of emergency was declared.

The top court had not rescinded the part of the order which quashed its anti-defection ruling ordering the country's electoral watchdog to re-instate the dozen government lawmakers disqualified over the ruling which the government had not even contested.

However, the Supreme Court late Sunday revealed that the country's Attorney General has now made a case seeking to annul the remaining part of the February 1 order which had been signed by the full top court bench.

The remaining three judge bench has asked the parliament to hold off on reinstating the dozen lawmakers until it decides on the case.

The latest of a series of more than contentious orders by the apex court since the arrest of the two judges would come as a major blow to opposition hopes of revoking the state of emergency which according to government sources president Yameen would seek to extend.

Police have accused Gayoom of bribing the two top court judges to issue the order in a bid to overthrow the government.