*The Maldivian Supreme Court last week ordered the immediate release of nine opposition leaders, including exiled former president Mohammed Nasheed, and their retrials. In its order, the court said that the prisoners’ ‘guilty’ verdicts had been “influenced” by the government.
*The ruling may allow Nasheed, who was Maldives’ first democratically elected president, to challenge President Abdulla Yameen when he seeks re-election later this year. Nasheed had been sentenced to 13 years in prison on terrorism charges but later received asylum in Britain.
*The court also ordered the reinstatement of 12 MPs, who had been ousted for switching allegiance to the opposition. With their return, President Yameen’s Progressive Party of the Maldives will lose its majority in the 85-member Parliament. This could lead to the opposition evicting the speaker and passing ‘no confidence’ motions against government officials, reported Reuters.
*On Sunday, the 12 ousted lawmakers, who were later reinstated, entered Parliament despite military deployment to block their entry into the building.
*In a statement released on Friday, India said it was “closely monitoring” the situation, and urged the Maldivian government to “respect and abide by the order of the apex court.”
*The ruling led to several clashes between opponents of the country’s government and its police in the capital Male.
*However, Yameen has shown no inclination to implement the order yet, even as the apex court on Sunday categorically asked that the ruling be complied with.
“There is nothing preventing the prosecutor general from seeking a re-trial after the order has been implemented (and prisoners released),” the Supreme Court said in a statement.
*Meanwhile on Sunday, the country’s attorney general alleged that the court was trying to impeach Yameen, even as he warned that the president can be ousted only through a vote in Parliament. He said that he had asked national bodies and defence units to disregard any Supreme Court ruling on impeaching Yameen.
*Highly-placed sources in the Maldivian Supreme Court on Sunday told TOI that Yameen was looking to sack judges of the apex court+ , including chief justice Abdulla Saeed, by filing false cases against them. It was also feared that military rule could be a very real possibility.
According to an earlier report by TOI, Yameen is said to have told a gathering of supporters about the Supreme Court ruling: “This will be sorted out soon… I’ll deal with the SC.”
*The same sources in the court have also urgently requested India and other democratic countries for help.
“The chief of judicial administration, Hasan Saeed, had his home raided on bribery charges and judges are being intimidated. We need India to take tough measures to ensure that rule of law is implemented in the Maldives,” the source told TOI.
Maldives: Reinstated MPs enter Parliament amid military deployment
The Indian mission in Male, according to sources in New Delhi, is in touch with “all relevant agencies” involved in the matter.
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