Maldives police put time cap on political rallies, protests

Maldives police on Sunday announced that no political rallies or protests would be allowed in the capital Male after 10.30pm amid the ongoing political crisis in the archipelago.

Police spokesperson Ahmed Shifan read out a statement on live television saying that the new time cap applies to all political parties and warned that any gathering, rally or protest would be immediately broken up after 10.30pm.

Shifan said the decision was taken after mounting complaints over the ongoing protests in the capital that have disrupted peace and stability.

The police announcement came hours after the ruling party had said that it would end all of its political events by 10.30pm and urged the police to impose the same time cap on all other political parties.

In addition to the streets, Shifan said the new time cap would extend to the various political camps in the capital Male.

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 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.

The united opposition have been taking to the streets in protest every evening where dozens have been arrested so far.

President Yameen is facing intense opposition and 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Less than a day after the arrest of the two judges, the remaining three judges rescinded its ruling to release the political leaders referring to the concerns raised by president Yameen in the letters he had sent to the chief justice hours before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.