The Latest: Maldives issues invite for visits by officials
MALE, Maldives (AP) — The Latest on the political crisis in the Maldives after the country’s supreme court ordered imprisoned politicians released and the president declared a state of emergency (all times local):
The government of the Maldives is inviting representatives of foreign governments and international organizations to visit the country while it is in a 15-day state of emergency declared by its president that has been internationally condemned.
The country’s foreign ministry said in a statement Wednesday that the invitation was being offered so critics can assess the situation in the country and its level of safety and security.
Tourism dominates the country’s economy, with wealthy foreigners who stay at hyper-expensive resort islands.
The country has been in political turmoil since last Friday, when the supreme court issued an order for the release of imprisoned opposition politicians.
The turmoil has been limited to the capital of Male, far from many tourism destinations in the Indian Ocean archipelago nation.
The acting police chief of the Maldives says the country’s chief justice and another supreme court judge took bribes in return for issuing a surprise ruling last week ordering the release of imprisoned politicians opposed to President Yameen Abdul Gayoom.
Abdulla Nawaz said Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed received millions of dollars and that police “have proof of these transactions.”
They have been arrested along with former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom amid a state of emergency declared by Yameen.
Nawaz late Wednesday also accused Gayoom of bribing lawmakers “to oust the government and also creating dissent within armed forces to rebel against the government.”
The Maldives is an archipelago of more than 1,000 islands with fewer than 400,000 citizens, more than one-third of them living in the crowded capital city, Male. Tourism now dominates the economy, with wealthy foreigners flown to hyper-expensive resort islands.
The U.N. human rights chief has called the declaration of a state of emergency in the Maldives and the resulting suspension of constitutional guarantees an “all-out assault on democracy.”
Political turmoil has swept the Maldives since a surprise court ruling last week that ordered the release of jailed opposition leaders, including many of President Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s main political rivals. He imposed a state of emergency on Monday.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said the restrictions “create a dangerous concentration of power in the hands of the president.”
Zeid’s criticism came a day after three Maldives Supreme Court justices annulled their earlier order to free the imprisoned opposition politicians after two of the court’s justices were arrested.
The annulment came after Yameen declared the state of emergency, which gives officials sweeping powers to make arrests, search and seize property and restrict freedom of assembly.