Joint Opposition Statement: Maldives Regime Arrests Two Members of Parliament As Illegal Crackdown Intensifies

4 February 2018, MALE: Two members of Parliament were arrested today at 12pm by the police, as President Yameen expands up his illegal take-over of the Maldivian state.

The two MPs, Abdulla Sinan (Male’ Machangolhi Constituency) and Ilham Ahmed (Dhangethi Constituency) were detained at the airport shortly after they arrived in the country. The police claimed they had a court arrest warrant. Last night, in an another highly irregular move, President Yameen ordered changes to the bench of the criminal court, which issues arrest warrants.

The arrests come as the Supreme Court judgement of last Thursday reinstated 12 opposition MPs, who have been banned from parliament and ordered the release of senior opposition figures. The SC ruling means the opposition now has a clear majority in the People’s Majlis, an institution with the power to impeach the president.

Yameen’s Attorney-General, flanked by the police and military chiefs at a press conference this morning, effectively declared that he was now the chief judiciary authority in the Maldives and the security services were to follow his orders and not those of the Supreme Court. Former President Mohamed Nasheed on Twitter labeled this unconstitutional and highly illegal move as tantamount to a coup d’etat.

Today saw scenes of chaos at the parliament, as both riot police and the military in riot gear, sealed off the legislature in an apparent – and illegal – attempt to stop parliamentarians from entering the building. Today was supposed to be the first parliamentary session of 2018.

Military personnel in full riot gear are currently in the chamber, as opposition MPs try to force a vote of no confidence against the Speaker of Parliament, a Yameen crony.

The Secretary-General of parliament, who had announced he would abide by the Supreme Court order to reinstate the 12 MPs, resigned today. This follows the resignation of a host of officials, including the head of Maafushi prison, where political prisoners the Supreme Court ordered released are currently detained. Following the Supreme Court’a descision reinstating the MPs, the Speaker had called off the opening of Parliament, scheduled for 5 February.

“We call on the Police to release the MPs immediately, and to stop following unlawful order, to stop obstructing the lawful mandate of Parliamentarians.

In a desperate attempt to cling onto power, President Yameen has illegally overrun the state: hisAttorney-General has illegally assumed the powers of the apex court, while the military has overrun the legislature.

President Yameen is now ruling the Maldives illegally.

Those officials responsible for this illegal take over of the State will be brought to swift justice by future administrations,” said Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Parliamentary Group Leader of the Joint Opposition