'Security forces must back, defend the president'

Maldives' security forces must always back the ideologies of the incumbent president, embattled president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom insisted Tuesday warning that if they don't, the country could plunge into chaos.

Speaking during a ruling party rally dubbed 'Military with the people' the commander in chief said throughout history, the presidency has always been under threat either by the people closest to the president or the political parties. However, the security forces must be united in efforts to defend an incumbent president against any unlawful attempt to overthrow the government.

During a national crisis, the person who would be most loyal to the country would be the president elected by the people and no one would want any harm to come to him, Yameen added.

"The security forces have taken an oath to protect this country. And the country is represented by the elected leader. So there won't be a country if an elected government is not in power," the president warned.

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 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 last week, president Yameen had got the parliament contentiously extend it by another 30 days.

President Yameen is facing mounting pressure even within the security forces 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.

There have been increasing reports of a series of arrests over rumours of a revolt within the police and military ranks.

Police late Thursday had confirmed that two police officers including former head of special operations were arrested over an "ongoing investigation" while another special operations officer based in Haa Dhaal Atoll Kulhudhuffushi was arrested on Saturday.

Less than a day after the arrest of the two judges, the remaining three judges rescinded its ruling to release the political leaders referring to the concerns raised by president Yameen in the letters he had sent to the chief justice hours before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