MALE, Maldives — The Latest on turmoil in the Maldives after a Supreme Court ruling ordered the release of political prisoners (all times local):
An opposition leader in the Maldives says government opponents will keep up their protests until the political prisoners ordered freed by the Supreme Court are released. The Thursday night court order led to hours of violent protests overnight in the capital.
The opposition leader was speaking from Male, the capital, on condition of anonymity because of fear of reprisals by authorities who have already imprisoned numerous politicians.
The politician says while Male was quiet Friday morning, the opposition is planning further protests.
Politics have become sharply divided in the Indian ocean archipelago in recent years, with President Yameen Abdul Gayoom rolling back many democratic reforms after a longtime strongman was voted from office in 2008.
The streets of the Maldives capital are calm Friday morning, with offices open and people heading to work, hours after clashes broke out following a Supreme Court verdict ordering the release of political prisoners.
Opposition celebrations in Male turned into clashes with police after the Indian Ocean nation’s president fired the country’s police chief, whose department said it would uphold the court ruling. At least one policeman was injured in the violence, which lasted about three hours.
The clashes that broke out overnight in the Maldives began after the Indian Ocean nation’s president fired the country’s police chief, whose department said it would uphold a Supreme Court ruling ordering the release of political prisoners.
Attorney General Mohamed Anil says the police chief was fired after President Yameen Abdul Gayoom was repeatedly unable to reach him on the phone. Yameen named the police chief’s deputy as interim head of the force.
After the firing was announced, clashes began between police and hundreds of flag-waving supporters of ex-President Mohamed Nasheed, who lives in exile in Britain. The court ruling could allow Nasheed, the nation’s first democratically elected president, to challenge Yameen when he seeks re-election later this year.
The U.S. ambassador to the Maldives has welcomed the Supreme Court ruling ordering the release of political prisoners, including exiled ex-President Mohamed Nasheed.
Ambassador Atul Keshap wrote on Twitter: “I urge the government and security services to respect this ruling, which bolsters democracy and rule of law for all Maldivians.”
Clashes broke out in Male, the capital of the Indian Ocean island nation, after the court ruling was announced Thursday night with opposition protesters demanding the release of the prisoners.
The ruling could allow Nasheed, the nation’s first democratically elected president, to challenge President Yameen Abdul Gayoom when he seeks re-election later this year. Nasheed now lives in exile in Britain.
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