MALE, Maldives (AP) — The president of the Maldives asked Parliament on Monday to extend the state of emergency that has helped him reinforce his power, as political turmoil continued to churn in the Indian Ocean nation.
A vote of the 85-member Parliament was postponed pending approval from a national security commission. It’s likely to be taken before Tuesday evening, when the current state of emergency expires.
President Yameen Abdul Gayoom declared the emergency after the Supreme Court ordered the release of a group of his imprisoned political opponents, who had been convicted in widely criticized trials. Yameen asked Parliament to extend the state of emergency by two weeks.
Under the emergency law, Yameen had two Supreme Court judges arrested, accusing them of corruption. Later, the remaining three judges annulled the order to release Yameen’s opponents.
The judges on Sunday also delayed an earlier order to reinstate 12 pro-opposition lawmakers who were expelled after siding with the opposition. Yameen’s party would have lost a majority in Parliament had they been allowed to participate in the vote.
Yameen’s half-brother and former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom also was arrested after the emergency decree, accused of conspiring with the opposition to overthrow the government.
Maldives became a multiparty democracy in 2008 after decades of Gayoom’s autocratic rule. But Yameen has rolled back much of the country’s democratic gains and freedoms after being elected to power in 2013.
The country’s traditional political alliances have been upended in recent years. Gayoom, now an opposition leader, is allied with exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed, who unseated him in the 2008 elections.
Nasheed, Yameen’s most prominent rival, is among the politicians ordered freed by the Supreme Court.
Maldives is an archipelago of more than 1,000 islands. More than one-third of its 400,000 citizens live in Male, the crowded capital city. Tourism dominates the economy, with wealthy foreigners flown directly to hyper-expensive resort islands.
Associated Press writer Krishan Francis contributed to this report from Colombo, Sri Lanka.