Maldives crisis: Supreme Court revokes order to free political prisoners

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In another development to consolidate his power, embattled President Abdulla Yameen on Tuesday forced the Supreme Court to revoke an order to release nine high-profile political prisoners.

As India closely monitors the situation in Maldives, almost 30 years ago, it was the Indian government which solved the political crisis in the island nation and successfully foiled a coup to overthrow the then Maldives president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

The travel alert came after the Maldives government under President Abdulla Yameen declared a 15-day state of emergency a day earlier, according to a statement by MOFA's Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Three of the five Supreme Court Justices for the Maldives have annulled their own order to free political prisoners after two of the court's justices were arrested.

It said the judges, upon considering concerns raised by the president, had made a decision to "annul" a section ordering the release and re-trial of the nine people, seven of whom are imprisoned in the Maldives.

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India had yesterday asked its nationals to defer all non-essential travels to the Indian Ocean nation until further notice.

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen rejected that ruling.

China, the US, India and the United Kingdom are among those issuing warnings to travellers in the Maldives.

Mr Yameen said: "This state of emergency is the only way I can determine how deep this plot, this coup, goes".

With Maldives in turmoil+ following a face off between the government and its Supreme Court, India is expected to follow a standard operating procedure (SOP) that includes keeping the troops in readiness, government sources indicated on Tuesday.

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With the political crisis in the Maldives showing no signs of abating, the chief justice has reportedly also received threats to his life via anonymous telephone calls. "The Government continues to carefully monitor the situation".

He was also president between 1978 to 2008 when the Maldives, which relies on tourism, became a multi-party democracy.

The government did not comment on soldiers entering the Supreme Court building or on Gayoom's arrest, but the president's main rival, who lives in exile, urged people not to obey what he called an "unlawful order".

President Yameen has accused judges of plotting to overthrow him and said the emergency is to investigate this plot.

She added, "President Yameen's refusal to implement the ruling puts him outside his constitutional mandate".

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