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No obstacle to enforcing order: Supreme Court

An unfolding crisis in the Maldives is escalating after the attorney general declared Sunday morning that the security services will defy a new Supreme Court order for the removal of President Yameen.



An unfolding crisis triggered by a surprise Supreme Court order to release political prisoners is escalating after the attorney general declared Sunday morning that the security services will defy a “[new] ruling that removes the president from power”.

The televised statement came after the police announced an investigation is underway into alleged bribery involving Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed Mohamed and moved to arrest the chief judicial administrator.

Live blog closed.

12:00 am – The opposition rally has ended.

10:50 pm – Unlike previous nights, riot police are keeping their distance as the opposition rally continues with fiery speeches from lawmakers.

A well-attended PPM rally has also been going on at the ruling party’s main campaign hall.

9:16 pm – Opposition supporters are gathered outside the MDP’s meeting hall in Malé, waving national flags to protest music and calling for the release of political prisoners. Several people have travelled to the capital from the atolls in response to calls by the main opposition party’s national council.

8:45 pm – MNDF statement: “The Maldives National Defence Force is working with the Maldives Police Service to stop activities by some people that openly threaten the security and safety of the Maldives and disrupt the peace of the country by spreading false and unfounded rumors about the lawful government of Maldives; by holding rallies that are openly calling to create disorder and by [spreading information] on social media that threaten the social harmony of the country.

“We would like to inform the beloved Maldivian people that the security forces are steadfast and united in ensuring constitutionally guaranteed protections and peace and harmony to the citizens.

“We would like to assure the beloved Maldivian people that the security forces will remain steadfast in fulfilling all the duties entrusted to the security forces by the constitution in order to guarantee the security of the people and protect the lawful government.

“In the ongoing attempts to create disorder and chaos in the Maldives, we advise the beloved Maldivian people not to resort to any illegal acts, to obey orders of law enforcement officials and to maintain the peace and harmony of the country.”

6:57 pm – The Supreme Court has responded to the Prosecutor General’s request for “further instruction and counsel” to execute its order. In a brief statement, the court said there was no legal obstacle for the PG office to begin proceedings for retrials.

The apex court has also quashed the criminal court warrant for the arrest of the chief judicial administrator and ordered the lower court to hand over all the case files and related documents before 7 pm.

The police reportedly searched Hassan Saeed’s residence in Malé on Sunday morning but were unable to find him.

6:10 pm – Government supporters gathered near the Supreme Court calling for the resignation of Chief Justice Saeed. The group of about 40 people broke through barricades on Orchid Magu but were blocked outside the court, pushed back and dispersed.

5:55 pm – Criminal court judge Muhthaz Fahmy has released Aminath Nadira, a senior aide of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. She was arrested during the opposition’s nightly protest along with two others, both of whom were released earlier.

Her lawyer Nazim Sattar told reporters that the judge ordered her release when the state failed to back up its claim that she assaulted a female police officer.

5:05 pm – The joint opposition has condemned the arrest of MPs Sinan and Ilham as part of President Yameen’s “illegal takeover of the Maldivian state,” which came after he allegedly “ordered changes to the bench of the criminal court, which issues arrest warrants.”

The allied parties say the attorney general “effectively declared that he was now the chief judiciary authority in the Maldives and the security services were to follow his orders and not those of the Supreme Court.”

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the joint parliamentary group leader, said: “We call on the Police to release the MPs immediately, and to stop following unlawful order, to stop obstructing the lawful mandate of Parliamentarians. In a desperate attempt to cling onto power, President Yameen has illegally overrun the state: his attorney general has illegally assumed the powers of the apex court, while the military has overrun the legislature.

“President Yameen is now ruling the Maldives illegally. Those officials responsible for this illegal take over of the State will be brought to swift justice by future administrations.”

3:32 pm – No-confidence motions have been filed against the attorney general and chief prosecutor, according to MDP MP Abdulla Shahid.

3:15 pm – Atul Keshap, the United States ambassador to the Maldives, has questioned the decision to cancel the opening of parliament on purported security grounds.

1:00 pm – MPs Abdulla Sinan and Ilham Ahmed have been arrested at the airport upon their return to the Maldives after months in exile. According to the police, the former ruling party lawmakers were arrested with court warrants. They were among 12 unseated MPs reinstated by the Supreme Court and part of the new opposition majority in parliament.

The pair was wanted in connection with a bribery investigation, the police previously announced.

12:30 pm – Chief of Defence Forces Major General Ahmed Shiyam has led soldiers and senior police officers in reciting their oath at the military headquarters in Malé. The officers declared they are ready to sacrifice their lives “in defence of the lawful government.” The ceremony was broadcast live on state television.

12:25 pm – Parliament Secretary General Ahmed Mohamed has confirmed his resignation to the Maldives Independent. “I resigned today due to personal reasons,” he said.

12:15 pm – Opposition MPs have conducted a parliamentary group meeting inside the People’s Majlis building. Soldiers in riot gear were standing guard outside the gates but allowed the MPs to pass although some climbed over the low wall.

Minority leader MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih told the press after the meeting that no-confidence motions will be moved against the prosecutor general, attorney general, home minister and defence minister over their refusal to comply with the Supreme Court order.

The press briefing was cut short after Specialist Operations police officers arrived on the scene and pushed back reporters.

8:30 am – Police statement: “Maldives Police Service is looking to arrest [chief judicial administrator] Hassan Saeed Hussain, Malé municipality registry 251, with a court warrant regarding a bribery case lodged with the police. From our current investigation, we have received evidence of bribery included in the documentary evidence for a recent flats lease from a commercial housing project in Malé.

“Regarding the case submitted to the police, our investigation has also recieved documentary evidence that two family members of both Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed had participated in transactions to buy flats from the aforementioned housing project. Our institution is working to clarify information related to this.”