United Nations rights chief: 'all-out assault on democracy' in Maldives

Hotline launched for Bangladeshis in Maldives

Hotline launched for Bangladeshis in Maldives

President Abdulla welcomes SC U-turn on high-profile prisoners.

Hameed and Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed are accused of accepting bribes to impeach the president.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said the restrictions imposed on Monday "create a unsafe concentration of power in the hands of the president".

Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al Hussein said the declaration of the state of emergency in the Maldives and the resulting suspension of constitutional guarantees have swept away the checks and balances and separation of powers necessary in any functioning democracy.

Now Nasheed, whose tumultuous life in prison and politics has earned comparisons to Nelson Mandela, is back in the global spotlight after a Supreme Court ruling that has plunged his homeland into chaos.

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"The Maldives have seen in recent years attacks on political opponents, on journalists, on civil society and human right defenders, and what is happening now is tantamount to an all-out assault on democracy", he added.

But strongman Yameen was defiant, and instead declared a 15-day state of emergency that curtailed the powers of the judiciary and the legislature before ordering the arrest of the chief justice and another top judge.

"The US calls on President Yameen, the army, and police to comply with the rule of law, implement the Supreme Court's lawful ruling, ensure the full and proper functioning of the Parliament, and restore constitutionally guaranteed rights of the people and institutions of Maldives", a State Department spokesperson told PTI. Security forces stormed into the court premises and arrested two judges, including the chief justice.

The United Nations, India and other foreign governments have expressed concern over the state of emergency and have urged Yameen to respect the earlier court order.

Gayoom - president for 30 years until the country's first democratic elections in 2008 - was previously the only senior opposition figure still at liberty in the Maldives.

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Ex-president Mohamed Nasheed said Wednesday on Twitter that Gayoom is not eating in custody and that Ali Hameed has been "ill treated" without providing more details. Tourism now dominates the economy, with wealthy foreigners flown to hyper-expensive resort islands.

The two men are now political enemies.

Yameen has had nearly all the political opposition jailed since he came to power, in an escalating crackdown on dissent.

The country's main economic driver is tourism and the foreign ministry on Wednesday invited representatives of foreign governments and global groups to visit so they can assess the situation and the Maldives level of safety and security.

The streets of the capital Male were calm Wednesday with only a limited police presence and no sign of any repeat of the opposition protests that broke out last week.

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