Maldives: Military takes over Parliament to stop Speaker's impeachment
Police blocking MPs as they attempt to reach Parliament House in Maldives on July 24. Photograph: (Twitter)
Maldives military on Monday took over the country's Parliament on the orders of the President and barred lawmakers from entering the building in a bid to stop the impeachment of Speaker and the President's close ally Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed over allegations of corruption, mismanagement and rights abuses.
The no-confidence motion against the Speaker, supported by 45 of the Parliament's 85 lawmakers as per the Opposition, was to be taken up today. The Opposition accuses the Speaker of blocking its requests to summon government officials accused of corruption.
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party was quoted as saying that the gates of the parliament were padlocked by members of the armed forces on the orders of President Yameen and lawmakers were forcibly prevented from entering parliament building.
"Military with special operations police have stormed the Parliament, they are inside," MP Eva told Raajje TV.
Special Operations police officers in riot gear entered the Parliament in order to remove the MPs who had entered the building. Members of Parliament who entered the Parliament House were attacked with pepper spray by the police, media reports said, adding it wasn't clear on whose order the attack was carried out.
On July 4, the Maldives President lost his majority in parliament after opposition lawmakers defected and launched a new attempt to unseat the Speaker.
Ten lawmakers from the president's own party joined opposition lawmakers in launching the impeachment against the Speaker.
The 10 defections saw Yameen lose his 48-seat majority in the 85-seat parliament, with a four-party opposition coalition now holding 45 seats.
On July 21, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen's nephew was arrested amid a power struggle in the troubled honeymoon islands.
In March, Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed survived a bid to impeach him amid chaotic scenes in the parliament.
President Yameen, who plans to run for a second five-year term in 2018, has repeatedly been accused by allegations of corruption and undemocratic behaviour.
His administration has arrested most of the opponents who might challenge him in 2018, and his government denies the opposition's allegations that his administration is trying to cover up the charges of corruption.
The first democratically elected leader of the Maldives, Nasheed, was ousted in 2012 and subsequently sentenced to 13 years in jail on terrorism charges after a widely denounced trial.
Riot police and soldiers entered the parliament on Monday and dragged the opposition lawmakers out of the Parliament premises (WION)