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'All-out assault on democracy', U.N. rights chief says of Maldives

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein talks to reporters in Jakarta, Indonesia February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations top human rights official called on the Maldives government on Wednesday to immediately lift the state of emergency imposed two days ago, calling it to “an all-out assault on democracy”.

The Maldives has been in crisis since last week, when the Supreme Court quashed convictions ranging from corruption to terrorism of nine opposition figures. Tension came to a head when President Abdulla Yameen’s government rejected the ruling, imposing an emergency on Monday and then arrested the chief justice and another judge of the court the next day.

“President Yameen has, to put it bluntly, usurped the authority of the State’s rule-of-law institutions and its ability to work independently from the executive,” Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement. “...what is happening now is tantamount to an all-out assault on democracy.”

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Toby Chopra