Male [Maldives], Feb 4 (ANI): The current political unrest in the Maldives took a new turn when agitators massively protested outside Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed’s house in Male late on Saturday.
Reportedly, there were scuffles between the protesters and police in riot gear outside the Chief Justice’s residence.
The agitators are trying to force Justice Saeed and another supreme justice, Ali Hameed to resign.
Eva Abdulla, Member of Parliament, of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) describing the ordeal told ANI over the phone, “Absolute breakdown of law and order. The public is on the edge. I am very concerned as we are facing increased unrest. They (police) have just used pepper spray and tear gas on the crowd.”
Meanwhile, Justice Saeed said, “We need our neighbours, especially India to do all that it can to impress upon the Govt of Maldives to implement the SC ruling.”
Agitators in the Maldivian capital on Saturday opened the gate of Maafushi Prison, where the 12 parliamentary members have been kept in detention, but did not enter inside.
The prison officers came in their riot gears and tried to control the agitators in Male. Later, the National Defence Force also came in their riot gears.
Protests continued in the Maldivian capital as President Abdulla Yameen refused to follow the Maldivian Supreme Court’s ruling to release key political prisoners and reinstate the 12 parliamentary members.
This decision has pushed the island nation into a crisis with the likelihood of emergency being declared, as Yameen has got the first session of parliament of 2018 (scheduled for February 5) cancelled, sensing that the opposition will be in majority because of the apex court order.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court acquitted former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed and former Maldivian Vice President Ahmed Adeeb along with 12 other parliamentary members.
The court ordered the immediate release of high-profile prisoners and held that “the prisoners were free until fair trials could be conducted without undue influence”.
The order given on late Thursday evening could be a major blow to the Maldivian President, who has a tight grip on power, controlling institutions like the judiciary, police and the bureaucracy.
The main opposition party, the MDP hailed the ruling and described it as a “death knell for President Yameen’s corrupt and criminal dictatorship”.
Yameen took over as the president after winning a controversial runoff against Nasheed.
The Maldives was plagued by political unrest in 2015 when Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the country, was arrested on “terrorism” charges, relating to the arrest of a judge during his tenure.
The arrest led to widespread protests across the country and resulted in the arrest of hundreds of dissidents. The apex court had sentenced Nasheed to 13 years in prison.
In 2016, Nasheed also sought political asylum in the United Kingdom after travelling there on medical leave from prison.
Ten years ago, the Maldives became a multiparty democracy, after three decades of autocratic rule of former strongman and Yameen’s half-brother Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. (ANI)