Maldives: Supreme Court judges arrested amid political crisis

Maldives police have arrested the country’s chief justice of the Supreme Court as a political crisis worsens in the Indian Ocean nation.

Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and another judge, Ali Hameed, were arrested hours after the government declared a state of emergency.

No details were given about the investigation or any charges.

The turmoil began when President Abdulla Yameen refused to obey a court order to release political dissidents.

The opposition have called the government moves a “purge” and there has been international condemnation.

Maldives is a nation made up of 26 coral atolls and 1,192 individual islands, and tourism is a vital part of its economy.

What’s happening in the Maldives?

Last week, the Supreme Court ordered the release of a group of opposition politicians. It also ruled that the 2015 trial of former President Mohamed Nasheed, who is living in exile, had been unconstitutional.

It was followed by a pledge from the country’s police commissioner that he would enforce the court’s ruling. In response, the government of President Adulla Yameen sacked him.

The army has now been ordered to resist any attempt to impeach or remove President Yameen.

The crisis escalated on Monday when a state of emergency was declared, giving a range of powers to the security forces to make arrests, and banning public gatherings.

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who has allied himself with the opposition, was detained at his home.

In a video posted online the ex-president addresses his supporters (in Divehi), saying that he has not “done anything to warrant arrest” and urging them to “remain strong”.

Police were also dispatched to the Supreme Court.

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