- A 15-day state of emergency has been declared in the Maldives.
- Authorities in the Indian Ocean nation arrested two Supreme Court judges and a former president early Tuesday morning.
- The Supreme Court ruled last week that a number of political prisoners should be released, but President Abdulla Yameen refused to comply.
- The US has condemned the declaration, and India and China are advising citizens to avoid the Maldives.
The Maldives has entered a state of emergency.
President Abdulla Yameen made that declaration early Tuesday morning local time, and in the hours since, two of the country’s four Supreme Court judges have been arrested along with former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who is also the estranged half-brother of Yameen.
Gayoom led the Maldives for 30 years until 2008, and is now in opposition.
According to Reuters, the situation in the Indian Ocean nation began when the Supreme Court dismissed terrorism charges against nine opposition leaders, six of whom are being held in jail. Yameen refused to comply and fired the country’s police commissioner who said he would follow the court order.
The state of emergency declaration, which was “enforced in order to protect the peace and welfare of all citizens and the country,” gives security forces the ability to circumvent the judiciary and make arrests, while lifting restrictions on unlawful arrests and prompt prosecutions.
Freedom of assembly is prohibited, as well as any effort to remove the president from office.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that, despite the declaration, there will be no curfew and that services and business “will not be affected.”
The department said there are also no restrictions on traveling to or from the popular holiday destination, which is comprised of 1,192 islands, and all transportation remains operational.
The Committee to Protect Journalists reported the Maldives Broadcasting Commission earlier warned media organizations could be closed if they were a national security threat. On Tuesday, independent news site Maldives Independent said its website was “under attack” and believe it was “designed to coincide with the state of emergency.”
The US State Department said it is “troubled and disappointed” by the situation.
“President Yameen has systematically alienated his coalition, jailed or exiled every major opposition political figure, deprived elected Members of Parliament of their right to represent their voters in the legislature, revised laws to erode human rights, especially freedom of expression, and weakened the institutions of government by firing any officials who refuse orders that run contrary to Maldivian law and its Constitution,” a spokesperson for the department said.
Yameen has been president since 2013.