European Union calls for lifting of emergency in Maldives

Maldives' Supreme Court handed a victory to the nation's embattled president after he orchestrated the arrests of 2 justices

The political crisis in the Maldives deepened this week after embattled President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency and ordered the arrest of top judges and a former president.

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen yesterday appeared to have gained the upper hand in a bitter power struggle after a diminished Supreme Court reinstated the convictions of high-profile political dissidents including the exiled leader of the opposition. "As referred to in the order, there is nothing preventing the prosecutor general from seeking a re-trial after the order has been implemented", the Maldives Supreme Court said in a statement.

Yameen has drawn close to China and Saudi Arabia during his time in office, with both countries investing heavily in the tiny tourist archipelago in the Indian Ocean, and may feel he has enough support to weather the storm.

The State of Emergency also suspends fundamental protections against arbitrary detention.

Nasheed, the first democratically elected leader of the Maldives, has accused the president of acting illegally and urged worldwide intervention in the crisis.

Later through Emergency Regulations, the government completely took over the judiciary by denying it all its constitutional rights. The opposition leaders who opposed him were either sent to jail or forced to leave the country.

Gayoom's lawyer and nephew Maumoon Hameed said on Twitter that his uncle had been informed of the imminent transfer by police.

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The 80-year-old - president for 30 years until the country's first democratic elections in 2008 - was taken from his home in the capital Male around midnight on Monday, hours after the emergency was declared. But China has invaded both countries with infrastructure projects, gaining influence at India's expense. This, he said, set risky legal precedents. "We are asking for a physical presence", Nasheed had tweeted.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has expressed serious concern over the declaration of a state of emergency in the Maldives and asked the government led by President Abdulla Yameen to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.

"So in light of the said concerns, I believe that the order to release the jailed prisoners can not be enforced in accordance with the constitution, the judicial process", Maldives President said, asking the Chief Justice to "reconsider".

Today, India is keeping its navy on alert and continuing patrols around the Maldives islands, but there are no plans now to intervene.

Islam is the official religion, and the population of less than half a million lives in stark contrast to the holiday makers who swim, sunbathe and sip cocktails in private pools. The main source of revenue of the honeymoon island is tourism.

Asked about former Maldives Parliament Speaker Abdullah Shahid alleging that Yameen was backed by China for approving a pro-Beijing trade pact, Geng said: "I have just said that the current situation in the Maldives is its internal affair". "The Maldives have seen in recent years attacks on political opponents, on journalists, on civil society and human right defenders, and what is happening now is tantamount to an all-out assault on democracy".

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