President Yameen loses support of top law officers

ANI | Updated: Feb 23, 2018 13:57 IST

Male [Maldives], Feb.23 (ANI): The Prosecutor General of Maldives, Aishath Bisham, has told police in a letter that the state of emergency declared by President Abdullah Yameen is unconstitutional as the procedure followed for ratifying it in Parliament was not done as per established convention.

The parliament approved on Tuesday the extension of emergency sought by President Yameen, but it was passed without the constitutionally required quorum of 43 lawmakers.

Further, Bisham states in his letter that all detained leaders should be released immediately or produced before a court if their remand is to be extended.

The Maldives Police Service, thereafter approached Attorney General Mohamed Anil for advice on the matter, who also endorsed Bisham's advice.

This led acting Commissioner of Police, Abdulla Nawaz to approach President Abdulla Yameen for directions and was instructed not to release any person.

Bisham's letter to the authorities comes after several travel advisories were issued by many countries not to travel to The Maldives as it was under a state of emergency since February 5.

Tourists have been cancelling hundreds of hotel bookings every day despite government assurances that all is normal in the resort islands far from the capital.

When parliament approved the extension of emergency, the ruling party legislators also sought a Supreme Court opinion through a resolution on the approval without the quorum.

In his request to extend the emergency, President Yameen said the threat to national security had not diminished and a constitutional crisis had not been resolved.

President Yameen imposed a state of emergency on February 5 for 15 days to annul a Supreme Court ruling that quashed convictions against nine opposition leaders and ordered his government to free those held in prison. The emergency was further extended to 30 days.

Abdul Raheem Abdulla, the vice president of President Yameen's Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), said the Supreme Court's stay order means that the court has seen the state of emergency declaration vote as "something that can be lawfully done".

Ahmed Mahloof, an opposition spokesperson, said the president was forcing the police to keep the people arrested in detention, despite the prosecutor general's letter.

"The chief justice and a judge of the court are detained illegally," Mahloof told reporters. He added, "The Supreme Court can't deliberate without the chief justice. They can't even use the seal of the court without the permission of the chief justice."

Police dispersed night protests by opposition supporters who have been demanding the detention of President Yameen and the release of opposition leaders.

During the emergency, the current administration has arrested the chief justice, another Supreme Court judge and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on allegations of attempting to overthrow the government.

Though Yameen has ignored the court rulings, he has stopped short of saying he will not obey them. He has, however, fired two police chiefs who said they would uphold the rulings, and he continues to jail opposition members. (ANI)