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Maldives declares state of emergency as crisis deepens

AFP , Monday 5 Feb 2018
A Maldivian opposition supporter stands facing police
A Maldivian opposition supporter stands facing police during a protest demanding the release of political prisoners in Male, Maldives, Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. (AP)
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Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Monday declared a 15-day state of emergency, his aide Azima Shukoor announced, deepening the political crisis in the Indian Ocean nation.

The move gives sweeping powers to security forces to arrest and detain suspects, and comes amid a tense standoff between the Supreme Court and the government.

The president has refused to comply with a court order to release political prisoners, despite growing international pressure and concern.

Shukoor read out the declaration on state television shortly after Yameen sent three letters to the judges asking them to reverse their decision.

This is the second time Yameen has declared a state of emergency. He last took the step in November 2015 after an alleged attempt to assassinate him.

Officials said the president is required to inform the parliament about any declaration of emergency within two days, but the country's legislature has been suspended indefinitely by authorities.

The Supreme Court on Thursday had also restored the seats of 12 MPs who had defected from Yameen's party, effectively handing the opposition a majority in the 85-member parliament, making the president vulnerable to impeachment.

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