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Maldives opposition urges global community to help end crisis

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Male: Opposition leaders in the Maldives urged the international community today to pressure President Abdulla Yameen into obeying a court order to free political prisoners and "restore democracy" to the troubled honeymoon islands. Yameen's regime has so far refused to release nine jailed dissidents and reinstate opposition lawmakers as ordered by the Maldives' top court in a shock ruling last week that has deepened turmoil in the atoll nation.

The Supreme Court on Sunday asked Yameen to comply with its order, saying the dissidents must be released because their trials were politically motivated and flawed.

But the strongman leader has remained defiant, suspending parliament, ordering the arrest of two returning opposition defectors and staging a rally late Sunday with hundreds of supporters in the capital Male. In a letter addressed to the international community, Maldive opposition lawmakers appealed for external support in persuading Yameen to end the tense standoff with the country's highest court.

"We request the international community, including India, Sri Lanka, the US, Britain, the EU... To do everything in their power to help return power to the people of the Maldives and restore democracy," the statement read.

Yameen has faced increasing pressure to respect Thursday's landmark court ruling, with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the weekend calling for "restraint" as the crisis escalated.

The United Nations, Australia, Britain, Canada, India and the United States welcomed the court's decision as a move towards restoring democracy in the troubled Indian Ocean nation.

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