Maldives parliament blockade: Nations urge Male to restore legislature's independence

Male: After Maldivian troops blockaded its parliament and clashed with opposition leaders for two days, foreign governments urged Maldives to restore the legislature's independence, the Washington Post reported.

According to the report, Sri Lanka-based embassies from the US, Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland, as well as the EU delegation to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, said that they were alarmed by the recent incidents as it undermined democracy.

On Tuesday, PTI had reported that the United Kingdom urged its citizens to take caution in the capital Male after soldiers fired tear gas on protesting politicians.

The UK government also urged its citizens to avoid large gatherings and protests following the disturbance around Maldives' parliament building.

"Previous demonstrations and political protests have led to violence and arrests," the updated travel summary said.

The United States and other nations have urged the Maldives to safeguard democracy.

What is happening in Maldives?

On Monday, soldiers barred the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) from entering the heavily guarded parliament complex again.

 Maldives parliament blockade: Nations urge Male to restore legislatures independence

Representational image. Reuters

"Even when the parliament is not in session, MPs are free to go to the building and attend to their work, but it is not allowed now," MDP spokesman Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told AFP. "This is ridiculous," he added.

The parliament gates were padlocked by soldiers Monday in a move described as illegal by exiled Maldivian opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed.

An opposition coalition, united against President Abdulla Yameen, had been threatening to move a no-confidence motion against the speaker in a bid to impeach the president's ally. But MPs trying to enter the compound were hit with pepper spray and forcibly evicted.

Yameen's office said in a statement on Tuesday that the parliament was closed ahead of an "incoming VVIP visit".

Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif is in the Maldives as the tropical island nation celebrates its 52nd anniversary, the Pakistan High Commission in Sri Lanka said.

"The special measures taken by the security forces at the parliament building on 24 July, 2017, were to ensure the security and safety of the premises, as mandated by the Constitution," Yameen's office said.

The opposition coalition, led by Nasheed, wants to defeat Yameen at elections next year but is struggling with its leadership in tatters.

Earlier this month they secured enough support from government defectors to begin impeachment proceedings against the speaker, hoping to weaken Yameen's grip on parliament.

However, the parliament secretariat declared the impeachment motion was invalid, scheduling the next sitting on 31 July.

The first attempt to impeach the speaker in March triggered chaos when troops acting on Yameen's orders stormed the parliament and removed dissenting opponents by force.

Nasheed became the Maldives' first democratically-elected president in 2008 but was narrowly defeated by Yameen in a controversial 2013 election run-off.

In 2015, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison on terrorism charges that were widely seen as politically motivated. He now lives in exile in Britain.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Jul 26, 2017 15:59:13 IST

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