Mohamed Nasheed has urged India to send an envoy to end Maldives crisis [Al Jazeera]

An opposition leader in the Maldives has called on India to intervene after President Abdulla Yameen declared a 15-day state of emergency amid a deepening political crisis in the island nation.

Mohamed Nasheed, the country’s exiled former president, urged neighbouring India on Tuesday to send “an envoy, backed by its military” to free two Supreme Court judges and a former president who were arrested in the capital Male after the emergency declaration.


“We are asking for a physical presence,” Nasheed said in his appeal to India.

The Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago, was plunged into turmoil on February 1 when its Supreme Court issued a shock ruling that overturned terrorism convictions against nine of Yameen’s opponents, including Nasheed, and ordered those in jail be freed.

Yameen defied the ruling and ignored calls from the United Nations, European Union, and foreign governments, including India and the US, to comply with it.

In his emergency decree on Monday, Yameen said the verdict has disrupted the power of the executive and threatened national security.

His office said enforcing the court ruling was “incompatible with maintenance of public safety”. 

Shortly afterwards, Yameen sent in troops to the Supreme Court building to arrest Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Judge Ali Hameed. His estranged half-brother, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who has sided with the opposition, was also detained in the early hours of Tuesday.

The parliament, where the opposition have a majority, remained suspended.

Nasheed said Yameen “has illegally declared martial law and overrun the state” and must be removed.

The former president also asked the United States to impose targeted economic sanctions on Yameen and his associates.

“We would also like the US government to ensure that US financial institutions stop all US financial transactions of the regime leaders in the Maldives,” he said.

Responding to the state of emergency, the US urged restraint on Monday.

“The Maldivian government and military must respect the rule of law, freedom of expression, and democratic institutions. The world is watching,” the US National Security Council said in a Twitter post.

Boris Johnson, the UK foreign secretary, said he was gravely concerned and called on Yameen “to peacefully end the state of emergency”. 

China, Australia and the US have issued travel advisories for the Maldives.

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