The Supreme Court cannot impeach the president, the attorney general said Sunday, as the government squared up to the judiciary over a shock ruling ordering the release of political prisoners.
Tensions have run high in the Maldives since Thursday night, when the country’s highest court said nine inmates should be freed immediately until they could have fair retrials.
There have been clashes in the capital, with Special Ops using tear gas and pepper spray to disperse crowds.
Statements initially suggested the government’s compliance with the ruling, but the attorney general’s latest remarks and comments from the military indicate further turmoil for the honeymoon destination.
“We have received information that things might happen that will lead to a national security crisis,” said Attorney General Mohamed Anil. “The information says that the Supreme Court might issue a ruling to impeach or remove the president from power. State institutions have also received this information.
“According to the constitution, the Supreme Court cannot issue any ruling that removes the president from power. So I have very clearly informed law enforcement agencies of this.
“I have told them that, in such a situation, law enforcement agencies should not obey a ruling in contravention of the constitution.”
Acting police chief Abdulla Nawaz said the force would work within the attorney general’s advice, while the head of the armed forces issued a warning.
“The Maldives military will not standby and watch Maldives go in to a crisis. The Maldives military will continue to work according to the legal advice of the attorney general of the country. The Maldives military will not obey any unlawful order,” said Ahmed Shiyam.
Former president Mohamed Nasheed, who is one of the nine named in the verdict, said the statements from the attorney general, military and police to disobey the Supreme Court orders was “tantamount to a coup.”