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21 February 2018, 06:37 | Leigh Flowers
Journalist being arrested during anti-government protests in Male Maldives
It is the second backflip by the Supreme Court since Yameen ordered the arrest of the Chief Justice and another Supreme Court judge just two weeks ago as he declared a state of emergency. Yameen's actions are a direct contravention of Maldives' commitment to India and the worldwide community that the emergency provision would be in place for only 15 days, starting February 5.
On February 2, the Maldivian Supreme Court acquitted former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed, former Maldivian Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and ordered the reinstatement of 12 other parliamentary members.
Yameen had declared a 15-day state of emergency on 5 February, after a surprise Supreme Court ruling ordering the release of nine opposition leaders including self-exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed.
The tiny Indian Ocean island chain is best known for its luxury hotels, scuba-diving resorts and limpid tropical seas.
India, the key immediate neighbour of Maldives, has been closely watching the situation with the opposition requesting New Delhi to intervene in the crisis.
Ruling and opposition party leaders clashed over whether parliament's approval is required under the constitution to extend the state of emergency.
The latest of a series of more than contentious orders by the apex court since the arrest of the two judges would come as a major blow to opposition hopes of revoking the state of emergency which according to government sources president Yameen would seek to extend.
Yameen now has a majority in the 85-member parliament, restored Sunday after the depleted top court also U-turned on its order for 12 pro-opposition MPs - previously sacked for defecting from Yameen's party - to be reinstated.
Maldives' Parliament is expected to meet on Tuesday in the turbulent island nation, where Yameen wants to extend by a month sweeping emergency powers that have provoked censure from the worldwide community. "Further, the government notes with concern that these actions will further deepen the current constitutional crisis", it said.
Parliament cancelled Monday's vote without giving a reason after the opposition boycott, which left only 39 ruling party MPs in the chamber. Later, the remaining three judges annulled the order to release Yameen's opponents. But Yameen has rolled back much of the country's democratic gains after being elected in 2013.
Opposition lawmaker Eva Abdulla accused the Speaker of "bypassing the Constitution" and said the state of Emergency was "illegal".
The country's traditional political alliances have been upended in recent years.
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