MALE, Maldives — The Latest on turmoil in the Maldives amid a power struggle between the president and the Supreme Court (all times local):
Three of the five Supreme Court Justices for the Maldives have annulled their own order to free political prisoners after two of the court’s justices were arrested.
A statement from the court was issued late Tuesday after President Yameen Abdul Gayoom declared a state of emergency and security forces raided the court building and arrested the two justices.
The court last week ordered the release of a group of imprisoned opposition political leaders, including many of Yameen’s political rivals.
The country descended into political chaos following the order.
The president of the Maldives says the country’s state of emergency was imposed to investigate “this plot, this coup” of a Supreme Court ruling last week ordering the release of imprisoned opposition leaders.
Speaking on national television on Tuesday, President Yameen Abdul Gayoom said the court’s actions are “an obstruction of the very ability of this state to function.”
Yameen, who has rolled back a series of democratic reforms during his five years in office, has said that the court overstepped its authority in ordering the politicians to be released, and the order “blatantly disrupts the systems of checks and balances.”
The main political rival to the president of the Maldives has called on India to send an envoy — backed by its military — to free imprisoned Supreme Court justices and opposition leaders, as political turmoil battered the Indian Ocean nation.
The request from exiled former President Mohammed Nasheed on Tuesday came as Maldives security forces stormed the Supreme Court building overnight, arresting two judges and later a top opposition politician, after the government declared a state of emergency.
The government of President Yameen Abdul Gayoom has moved to assert its power since the Supreme Court ordered several imprisoned opposition politicians to be freed late last week. The government announced a 15-day state of emergency Monday night, giving it sweeping powers, including to make arrests, search and seize property and restrict freedom of assembly.