President lifts state of emergency in Maldives after 45 days

London/Male: Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen on Thursday lifted the state of Emergency after 45 days, inviting fresh criticism that he had used it to boost his own power and illegally arrest hundreds.

The government lifted the Emergency imposed in February following a Supreme Court ruling that had ordered the retrial and release of nine opposition leaders, including former President and now opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed.

“Upon the advice of the security services and in an effort to promote normalcy, the President has decided to lift the state of Emergency,” Yameen’s office said in a statement.

Following the announcement, Nasheed of the opposition Maldives Democratic Party said: “President Yameen lifts Emergency because he now has no need for it. He has overrun the judiciary and legislature, arrested hundreds unlawfully.”

Nasheed said Yameen was setting a “new normal” in the Maldives: an authoritarian rule seeking to turn the country into a “puppet state” controlled by China, Efe news reported.

Nasheed, the country’s first democratically elected leader, was forced to resign in 2012 and later jailed for ordering the allegedly illegal arrest of a judge.

Maldives has been mired in a political and institutional crisis following a Supreme Court ruling on February 1 which ordered the retrial and immediate release of nine opposition leaders as well as the reinstatement of 12 opposition lawmakers.

Yameen decided to reject the ruling and declared Emergency for 15 days on February 5 and claimed the government had thwarted an attempted coup by former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed.

He came under international attack due to the Emergency, including from the US and neighbouring India.

On February 20, hours before the state of Emergency expired, the government extended it for another 30 days without the required approval of 43 lawmakers.

During the 45-day state of Emergency, the government said day-to-day activities of the citizens had not been affected and tourists were free to visit the island nation.

Meanwhile, several members of Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) detained under Emergency powers were released without charge, the Maldives Independent reported.

According to the opposition, some 60 people were arrested since the declaration of Emergency.