Clashes in Maldives as court orders imprisoned politicians' release

Maldives back on boil afer apex court frees Mohamed Nasheed Opp leaders

A Maldivian opposition supporter faces off with police in Male on Friday as clashes erupt after the court verdict

In 2013, Nasheed lost a chaotic presidential election to the current president, Yameen, who is the half brother of the longtime ruler.

Yameen also said that he is now in talks with justices of the Supreme Court in order to find adequate room to enforce the ruling. "We believe Yameen might threaten the sitting bench with arrest if they don't revert the decision, " said Naseem.

"In an interaction with TOI in February past year, Nasheen had said that India had a moral obligation to facilitate" inclusive, free and fair elections in the Maldives" in 2018.

The strategically located Maldives in the Indian Ocean remained in the throes of the worst political crisis to have hit the archipelago in the past few years with President Abdulla Yameen showing no sign of implementing the Supreme Court ruling which ordered the release of all political prisoners, including former President Mohamed Nasheed. Yameen and Gayoom have since had a falling out and Gayoom is now aligned with the opposition. Western countries including United States and UK have already welcomed the verdict while India has hoped that the ruling will be abided in spirit of democracy. The latest ruling reaffirms the fundamentals of the separation of powers. The 12 had quit Yameen's ruling party past year, and allowing them to return to the legislature would deprive him of a majority.

The opposition alliance in a statement welcomed the ruling and called for Gayoom's resignation - saying the court's decision "effectively ends President Yameen's authoritarian rule".

The reinstatement of the dozen legislators has given the opposition a majority in the 85-member assembly, and it can now potentially impeach Yameen as well as his cabinet.

Maldivian opposition protesters demand the release of political prisoners during a protest on Friday.

Opposition parties had already brought an impeachment motion against speaker which is pending. The verdict also declared that all political prisoners were imprisoned after severely flawed trials, and therefore must be immediately released and granted re-trials, " said Naseem.

Shortly after Thursday's ruling the police announced on Twitter that it would enforce it. He also came down heavily at the four opposition leaders, calling them frauds and criminals. "No deadlines are being considered at this point - the focus is on, through consultations, implementing the ruling in the swiftest manner possible within the proper rules of procedure", Ibrahim Hussain Shihab, the global spokesperson at the President's office in Male, told The Hindu.

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