COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — The president of the Maldives on Thursday lifted a 45-day state of emergency he declared during an unprecedented court-triggered challenge to his political control in the archipelago nation.
President Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s office said he lifted the emergency on the advice of security officials to promote normalcy in the country.
The emergency was declared amid turmoil that followed a Supreme Court order that some of Yemeen’s main political opponents be freed from prison and retried. They were imprisoned after trials that were criticized for alleged violations of due process.
The president’s half brother and former dictator, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, two Supreme Court judges including the chief justice, and four lawmakers were arrested during the emergency and accused of conspiring to overthrow the government.
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They have all been charged under the terrorism law. They face prison terms of 10 to 15 years if convicted.
The list of prisoners ordered to be released included Mohamed Nasheed, the country’s first president elected in free balloting. Had he been cleared he could have become a potent rival to Yameen, who is seeking re-election later this year. Yameen is now poised to run virtually unopposed with all of his rivals either jailed or exiled.
After the arrest of the two justices, the remaining three judges on the Supreme Court reversed the order to release Nasheed and others.
Nasheed was jailed for 13 years for ordering the military to detain a senior judge while president. He was allowed to leave prison to seek medical treatment abroad and received asylum in Britain.
The country’s traditional political alliances have been upended in recent years. Gayoom had campaigned for Yameen in 2013 but is now an opposition leader allied with Nasheed, a democracy activist he repeatedly jailed. Nasheed defeated the dictator in the country’s first free election in 2008.
Nasheed resigned due to opposition from the public and sections of the military over his order to detain the judge. He lost the presidential election to Yameen in 2013 and was jailed two years later.
Under Yameeen the Maldives has lost much of its earlier political gains and freedoms. A vice president, a defense minister, judges and a number of lawmakers have been jailed.