High-profile arrests made in Maldives amid state of emergency

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Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and another judge, Ali Hameed, were arrested after President Yameen declared a state of emergency yesterday.

The 15-day emergency decree issued late on Monday gives the government sweeping powers to make arrests, search and seize property and restricts freedom of assembly.

Mr Nasheed who is lving in exile, called on the USA and india to assit the removal of President Yameen who declared a martial, illegally.

An opposition member of Parliament in the Maldives says soldiers have forced their way into the Supreme Court building where judges are believed to be taking shelter.

He also called on the United States to impose targeted economic sanctions on Yameen and his associates.

In a statement, Nasheed said Yameen had illegally declared martial law.

In addition to Nasheed, the other top political leaders named in the order included Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim, religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla, former defence minister Mohamed Nazim, former vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor and Gayoom's lawmaker son Faris Maumoon.

"A state of emergency can not be used to carry out what appears to be purge of the Supreme Court and the opposition", said Amnesty International South Asian Director Biraj Patnaik.

The Maldivian government must immediately release judges and opposition politicians it has arbitrarily detained through emergency powers, Amnesty International said today. "We had to find out how thick the plot or coup was", he said.

"Maldivians have had enough of this criminal and illegal regime", Nasheed said.

Mr Yameen may feel confident that he can ride out the trouble, having drawn close to China and Saudi Arabia, both of which have invested heavily in the Maldives; there was even a plan afoot a year ago to sell an atoll to the Saudis.

To the alarm of some opposition figures, Yameen courted investment from China and Saudi Arabia - his last visit to Beijing was in December.

He was granted asylum in the United Kingdom after he was authorised to seek medical treatment there amid mounting foreign pressure. "We request a physical presence", Nasheed, who is now in Colombo, said in a Twitter post.

Addressing the nation on state television, Yameen said he had acted to prevent a coup, and suggested that the judges had chosen to side with his opponents because they were being investigated for corruption.

With Maldives in turmoil following a face-off between the government and its Supreme Court, India is expected to follow a standard operating procedure (SOP) that includes keeping the troops in readiness, government sources indicated on Tuesday. Mohamed Nasheed, the country's first democratically president, who is in exile in London after he was convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to 13 years in jail, has urged India to take a proactive stand and "send an envoy, backed by its military to release the judges and political detainees".

Hours after the emergency was declared, security forces arrested two supreme court justices and a former ruler who is now an opposition leader.

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