Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and United States President Donald Trump discussed the turmoil in Maldives during a phone call on Thursday, PTI reported. They also talked about the situation in Afghanistan and enhancing security in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Both leaders expressed concern about the political crisis in Maldives and [talked about] the importance of respect for democratic institutions and rule of law,” the White House said.
Maldives plunged into a crisis on February 1 when the Supreme Court ordered the government to release nine political prisoners. President Yameen Abdul Gayoom’ government defied the order, and instead, on February 5, declared a 15-day state of emergency. Security forces stormed into the court premises and arrested two judges, including the chief justice. The police also arrested former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Meanwhile, on Thursday Maldives’ Judicial Service Commission – the country’s judicial watchdog – suspended Chief Justice Abdullah Saeed as he is being investigated for several serious allegations, Mihaaru reported. Saeed, Justice Ali Hameed and Judicial Service Administrator Hassan Saeed are being investigated for allegedly accepting bribes, using undue influence on the judiciary, and conspiring to overthrow the government of President Abdulla Yameen Gayoom.
The government has also launched a crackdown on the press. News channel Raajje TV was forced to go off the air after the country’s military threatened the media. The Defence Ministry said in a statement that it would take action against those who publish or air content that affects the national security.
The station discontinued its live broadcast around 11 pm local time (11.30 pm Indian Standard Time). The station said its journalists had been harassed, threatened and intimidated in the past week. “Following the Supreme Court ruling on February 1, Raajje TV received a number of threats including open calls for arson attacks, threats of violence against staff and calls to burn down the station by a mob gathered in front of Raajje TV.”