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    Maldives declares state of emergency as Yameen tightens grip on power

    Maldives President Abdulla Yameen on Monday declared a state of emergency for 15 days and security forces stormed the Supreme Court in an escalation of a power struggle with the archipelago’s top court.
    Police also arrested former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom at his residence along with his son-in-law. Gayoom is Yameen’s half-brother and ruled the country in the Indian Ocean for 30 years until 2008 but is now in the opposition.
    His detention is further evidence of a bid by Yameen to strengthen his grip on power.
    The president has defied a Supreme Court ruling ordering jailed opposition leaders to be freed, including Gayoom’s son Farish, an opposition lawmaker.
    Yameen has ruled since 2013 but faces mounting pressure at home and from the United States and India to release former president Mohamed Nasheed from a 13-year jail sentence and free eight other opponents from prison.
    “The President has been compelled to declare a state of emergency due to the risk currently posed to national security,” said a statement from the president’s office. “Implementation of the Supreme Court ruling is – in its current form – incompatible with maintenance of public safety.”
    China, the United States and India issued travel advisories for the Maldives, a country of 400,000 people best known as a beach paradise for tourists.
    The tumult comes during the peak tourism season. Tourism brought in $2.7 billion of revenue for the Maldives in 2016.
    “I just spoke to the Chief Justice and he told me that the gates of the Supreme Court is being stormed by the military. He is inside and nobody can go out or come in,” Husnu Al Suood, the president of Maldives Bar Association and a former Attorney general, told Reuters late on Monday.
    “The emergency means the Supreme Court activities are suspended and nobody is in charge of judiciary,” he said.
    Shortly after, the spokesperson for the court confirmed that state security forces had broken into the court.

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