India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau on Friday urged embattled Maldives president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom to revoke the state of emergency in the archipelago and restore democratic process.
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 Yameen on February 5 had declared a 15 day state of emergency after his last ditch attempt to convince the top court to revoke the order failed, purged the Supreme Court by arresting two judges and the remaining political leaders and ultimately had the order revoked.
As the state of emergency expired on Tuesday, president Yameen had got the parliament contentiously extend it by another 30 days.
A joint statement, issued after wide-ranging talks between Modi and Trudeau, said the two leaders expressed "strong concern"over the recent developments in Maldives and their implications for a free society.
They also "deplored the degradation" in Maldives of judicial independence and authority and of democratic institutions, as well as respect for fundamental freedoms, including those of speech and Assembly, constitutional rights and obligations under international law.
"The Government of Maldives was urged to ensure early resumption of the political process after revoking the state of emergency and to allow democratic institutions, including the judiciary, to function independently in a fair and transparent manner," the statement said.
President Yameen is facing mounting international pressure after exploiting the rights suspended under emergency state to crackdown hard on the opposition as police have made a series of high profile arrests including former president Maumoon Abdul 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Less than a day after the arrest of the two judges, the remaining three judges rescinded its ruling to release the political leaders referring to the concerns raised by president Yameen in the letters he had sent to the chief justice hours before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 accusations against Gayoom included bribing lawmakers and judges to influence their authority while the deposed ruling party leader has also been accused of creating discord within the security forces to back the overthrow of his half-brother's government.
The two top court judges are accused of accepting bribes to influence Supreme Court rulings, abuse of power and blocking the functioning of the entire justice system.
In addition to Nasheed, the other top political leaders named in the now rescinded 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 Gayoom's lawmaker son Faris Maumoon.
Former prosecutor general Muhthaz Muhsin, magistrate Ahmed Nihan and Adheeb's uncle Hamid Ismail make up the rest of the list.