Maldives President Abdulla Yameen lifts state of emergency but enemies vow to fight on
Yameen initially declared the state of emergency for 15 days after the country’s top court ordered him to free high-profile dissidents from jail
Maldives President Abdulla Yameen lifted a 45-day state of emergency on Thursday, a day after senior political opponents were charged with trying to topple him last month.
Attorney General Mohamed Anil said Yameen had decided not to extend the draconian laws he invoked on February 5 following a Supreme Court ruling that threatened to lead to his impeachment.
“The President has decided to end the emergency at midnight,” Anil said.
Yameen initially declared the state of emergency for 15 days after the country’s top court ordered him to free high-profile dissidents from jail.
Their release would have paved the way for former leader Mohamed Nasheed to return from self-imposed exile in London and challenge for the presidency.
Yameen refused to carry out the court order and instead invoked the emergency which curtailed the powers of the judiciary and the legislature.
He also arrested the chief justice and another Supreme Court judge.
The state of emergency was later extended for another 30 days, deepening the political crisis in the Indian Ocean archipelago.
The remaining judges revoked an earlier decision to reinstate 12 MPs who had been sacked for defecting to the opposition while Yameen also stripped parliament of its power to impeach him.
Yameen had been widely expected to let the tough laws lapse on Thursday after authorities charged former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and several senior judges with “terrorism” Wednesday.
Nasheed said that Yameen had allowed the emergency to lapse because he no longer had any need for it.
“He has overrun the judiciary and legislature, arrested hundreds unlawfully and introduced a ‘new normal’ in the #Maldives – full dictatorship,” Nasheed said on Twitter. “We will not give up, we will fight and we will overcome.”
Eighty-year-old Gayoom, the president’s estranged half-brother, has been in detention since his arrest last month.
The Prosecutor General’s office said Wednesday that Gayoom, who ruled the country for 30 years until 2008, had been charged with attempting an “act of terrorism and obstruction of justice”.
He was charged alongside 10 others, including the sacked chief justice Abdulla Saeed, and Gayoom’s legislator son Faris Maumoon.
The Maldives criminal court ordered Gayoom to be remanded in custody until the conclusion of his trial, although it was not immediately clear when the case would commence.
Yameen came to power following a controversial election run-off in November 2013 when he narrowly defeated former president Nasheed.
His crackdown has dented the nation’s image as a popular tourist destination, which remains vital to its economy.