'All-out assault on democracy' in Maldives: UN Rights Chief

ANI | Updated: Feb 07, 2018 23:27 IST

Male [Maldives], Feb 07 (ANI): The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein on Wednesday said the declaration of a state of emergency in the Maldives "is an all-out assault on democracy."

Hussein's statement comes after President Abdulla Yameen ordered a state of emergency in the country and gave sweeping powers to the law enforcement agencies and the military.

Expressing his concerns over recent development in Maldives Hussein said, "President Yameen has, to put it bluntly, usurped the authority of the State's rule-of-law institutions and its ability to work independently from the executive."

"The Maldives have seen in recent years attacks on political opponents, on journalists, on civil society and human right defenders, and what is happening now is tantamount to an all-out assault on democracy," he added.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday expressed serious concern about the situation in the Maldives and urged the government to uphold the rule of law in the island nation.

Earlier in the day, according to media reports, the security forces arrested the top judge after the declaration of the state of emergency.

Joint Opposition spokesperson Ahmed Mahloof on Wednesday said that officials within the government are threatening the Member of Parliament (MPs) of the opposition party.

Yameen, who has been defying Supreme Court's orders, directing him to release former president Mohamed Nasheed, and free eight other political opponents from prison, has given sweeping powers to security forces in the country, which is facing widespread protests against the president.

The opposition and general public have been unrelentingly asking President Yameen to step down and allow a new leadership to take charge. (ANI)