The Maldivian army has locked down the country’s parliament after the opposition vowed to move ahead with a vote against a key ally of President Abdulla Yameen.
Defiant lawmakers, however, scaled metre-high walls to the parliament compound on Monday, after fighting off riot police and pepper spray.
The opposition secured enough support from government defectors to begin impeachment proceedings against Speaker Abdulla Maseeh earlier this month.
They accuse Maseeh of ignoring allegations of corruption, mismanagement and rights abuses.
The vote was initially scheduled for Monday, but the ruling party declared the motion invalid after Yameen announced that four of the defectors had lost their parliamentary seats.
Ahmed Mahloof, an opposition lawmaker, said they had hoped to force the vote to proceed when soldiers carrying batons entered the parliament house and forcibly ejected them.
“Soldiers in riot gear are dragging elected members out from the parliament,” Mahloof told Al Jazeera.
“This is clearly unconstitutional. Many of us have been injured.”
Videos posted on social media show soldiers pushing lawmakers out of the building. A few politicians appear to have been injured.
— L✌M (@Thyyms) July 24, 2017
“There is no better symbol of Yameen’s dictatorship than the image of his security forces barring elected MPs from parliament. This president has lost all legitimacy and credibility,” said Eva Abdulla, an opposition lawmaker from the Maldivian Democratic Party.
The army could not be reached for comment.
Yameen has arrested or forced into exile most of the opponents who might have challenged him in next year’s presidential elections.
Last year, an Al Jazeera investigation revealed how Yameen’s government embezzled millions of dollars in tourism revenue.
Yameen denies allegations of corruption and rights abuses.
The embattled president now faces a coalition of four opposition parties, led by his brother Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the Maldives with an iron fist for 30 years, and Mohamed Nasheed, the country’s first democratically elected president.
Faris Maumoon, Yameen’s nephew and the leader of the effort to impeach the speaker, was arrested on charges of bribery last week.
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Source URL: Google News