By Bryan Yeoh Quan Jin, International News Writer
On February 5, Maumoon Abdul Gayoon, a former president of Maldives was detained as a crackdown on opposition voices continues. The Maldivian government had declared a state of emergency after the Supreme Court cleared convictions against nine prominent opposition leaders.
After the ruling was made, the Maldivian government made it known that it opposed the Supreme Court’s judgement. Subsequently, the Maldivian government declared a state of emergency. In addition to the arrest of Gayoom, military personnel have stormed the compound of the Supreme Court. President of Maldives Bar Association and a former attorney general, Husnu al-Suood, told Reuters news agency late on Monday. “I just spoke to the Chief Justice and he told me that the gates of the Supreme Court [were] being stormed by the military”. He also mentioned that Supreme Court activities are suspended and nobody is in charge of the judiciary since a state of emergency was declared.
Another significant aspect of the Supreme Court’s ruling is the reinstatement of 12 Members of Parliament (MPs) which would have restored the opposition’s majority in the parliament. These actions directed towards opposition voices is seen as the current President’s attempts to cling on to power. President Abdulla Yameen who is ex-President Gayoom’s half brother has been heavy-handed in his treatment of opposition parties during his reign as President. The United Kingdom and the United States’ foreign affairs departments have both issued statements condemning these actions. “President Yameen has systematically alienated his coalition, jailed or exiled every major opposition political figure, deprived elected members of parliament of their right to represent their voters in the legislature, revised laws to erode human rights … and weakened the institutions of government,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.
The government however has been on the defensive, viewing it as their defense against political instability. Maldivian Defense Minister Adam Shareef Umar commented on state television that, ‘We have managed to ensure the failure of the coup attempt by some people”. President Yameen on the other hand had accused the justices of colluding with the opposition in this coup attempt. “I declared the state of emergency because there was no way to hold these justices accountable. This is a coup. I wanted to know how well planned this coup is,” he said in a statement on national television.
As the crisis drags on, members of the opposition have urged the international community to assist them against what they perceive as a violation of the fundamental rights of Maldivians.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 13th print edition.
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