Maldives court delays reinstating pro-opposition lawmakers

February 18, 2018

In this photo taken Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, policemen use pepper spray to disperse pro-opposition supporters during a protest in Male, Maldives. Dozens of pro-opposition supporters have been injured and many were arrested after police in the Maldives broke up countrywide protests demanding the resignation of President Yameen Abdul Gayoom and the release of his political opponents from prison. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhan)

MALE, Maldives (AP) — The Supreme Court of the Maldives delayed its order Sunday reinstating 12 pro-opposition lawmakers ahead of a key parliamentary sitting, the latest political turmoil to roil the island nation.

Opposition lawmaker Ahmed Mahloof said the government may call for important votes at a parliamentary sitting Monday to extend a state of emergency or dismiss two Supreme Court judges who have been arrested on allegations of corruption.

President Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s ruling party may have lost a majority in the 85-member parliament if the 12 lawmakers were to be allowed to participate Monday.

The Maldives has faced upheaval since Feb. 1, when the Supreme Court ordered the release of Yameen’s imprisoned political opponents and the reinstatement of 12 lawmakers sacked after they sided with the opposition.

The prisoners include Mohamed Nasheed, the country’s first president elected in a free election, who could have been Yameen’s main rival in his re-election bid later this year.

After days of conflict with the judiciary, Yameen declared a 15-day state of emergency and had the country’s chief justice and another Supreme Court judge arrested on bribery allegations.

After the arrest of their colleagues, the remaining three judges of the Supreme Court annulled their ruling for the release of Yameen’s opponents.

Yameen’s half-brother and former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, whom Nasheed defeated in the country’s first democratic election 10 years ago, also was arrested for conspiring with the opposition to overthrow the government.

Demonstrations across the country Friday demanded the resignation of the president and the release of his jailed opponents. Dozens were injured and many arrested when police broke up the protests.

The Maldives became a multiparty democracy in 2008 after decades of autocratic rule. However, Yameen has rolled back much of the country’s democratic gains and freedoms since being elected in 2013.


Associated Press writer Krishan Francis contributed to this report from Colombo, Sri Lanka.

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