Maldives declares state of emergency for 15 days

MALE (Reuters) - Maldives President Abdulla Yameen on Monday declared a state of emergency for 15 days in an escalation of a battle with the country’s Supreme Court, which his allies say is trying to bring down the government.

Yameen had earlier defied a Supreme Court ruling to release nine jailed opposition leaders.

Legal Affairs Minister Azima Shakoor announced the emergency in a televised address. Under its terms, judges will no longer be granted special privileges if they are facing arrest.

“Certain rights will be restricted (but) general movements, services and businesses will not be affected,” the president’s office said in a statement about the emergency.

“The government of Maldives wishes to also assure all Maldivians and the international community that the safety of all Maldivians and foreigners living in and visiting the Maldives, will be ensured,” it said.

Eva Abdulla, an opposition legislator said the latest declaration of State of Emergency “is an indication of President Yameen’s desperation”.

“It only serves to show an isolated man who no longer has the confidence of the Maldivian people and independent institutions. He has no democratic mandate to govern and must resign immediately,” she said in a statement.

Reporting by Mohamed Junayd; Writing by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg