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NEW DELHI: The Maldives was teetering on the brink of military rule on Sunday with the Abdulla Yameen government looking to stifle the country’s supreme court.
Highly placed sources in the Maldivian apex court, even as they beseeched India and other democratic countries for help, told TOI that Yameen was looking to sack SC judges, including chief justice Abdulla Saeed, by filing false cases against them.
“The chief of judicial administration, Hasan Saeed, had his home raided on bribery charges and judges are being intimidated. We need India to take tough measures to ensure that rule of law is implemented in the Maldives,” a top source in the SC told TOI.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was closely involved with the SC ruling which ordered the release of all political prisoners, including Mohammed Nasheed, the country’s first democratically elected president. The Indian mission in Male, according to sources in New Delhi, was in touch with “all relevant agencies” involved in the crisis.
Things took a turn for the worse in the morning as the country’s police chief and the Maldives National Defence Force announced they were going to take orders from attorney general Mohamed Anil and not the SC.
But later in the evening, the SC dealt another blow to Yameen, asking him to comply with its order to release political prisoners and reinstate dissident lawmakers because their trials were “politically motivated and flawed”.
‘Yameen fooling international community’
The attorney general accused the SC of preparing to impeach Yameen and said such a move would not just be illegal but also be resisted by the government.
Anil said Yameen’s removal from office by the court would plunge the country into a “national security crisis”. The top court had last week ordered the release of all political prisoners.
However, even three days after the ruling, Yameen has not moved to free the prisoners. The ruling had also reinstated 12 MPs, giving the joint opposition led by Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party a clear majority in parliament.
A top SC official told TOI that an attempt was being made by the government to overhaul the judiciary. He said the SC was troubled by the manner in which the Yameen government had been misleading the international community for the past 3-4 years.
“The foreign minister, Mohamed Asim, has been telling world leaders that the Yameen government only implements orders from the judiciary. He is only fooling them by saying these things.
The fact is that all cases against the jailed leaders were found politically motivated and the ruling makes that point very clearly,” the official said.