United Nations chief urges Maldives government to respect court ruling

Supreme Court of the Maldives

On Friday evening, the global spokesperson at the President's office, Ibrahim Hussain Shihab, said the administration had "shared its concerns" with the Chief Justice over the ruling.

Police have said they will implement the court's decision that those political prisoners being held in jail should be freed pending retrials, although it remains unclear when this will happen.

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and the South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN) have urged the Maldives government and its security forces to respect the ruling of the country's Supreme Court for the release of all political prisoners and ensure its enforcement.

Current President Yameen Abdul Gayoom had been set to run for re-election virtually unopposed, with all of his opponents either jailed or exiled.

This decision has pushed the island nation into a crisis with the likelihood of emergency being declared, as Yameen has got the first session of parliament of 2018 (scheduled for February 5) cancelled, sensing that the opposition will be in majority because of the apex court order.

The court also reinstated 12 lawmakers who had been ousted for switching allegiance to the opposition.

The court ruled Thursday that the convictions of senior Maldivian opposition figures were "questionable" and "politically motivated", overturned these rulings, and ordered new trials.

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"I can contest and will contest", he said in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo.

The ruling brought opposition activists onto the streets in celebration, sparking clashes with police who fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.

An Indian Ocean nation known for its luxury tourist resorts, Maldives became a multiparty democracy 10 years ago after decades of autocratic rule. He has maintained a tight grip on power, controlling institutions like the judiciary, police and the bureaucracy. However, it lost much of its democratic gains after Gayoom's 2013 election. "President Yameen wants a coronation; not an election".

Nasheed , a charismatic and high-profile campaigner against climate change, was convicted in 2015 on a terrorism charge and sentenced to 13 years in jail.

Mr Yameen said, a dialogue has been initiated and they are working on fully deciphering the Supreme Court ruling.

Adeeb was sentenced to 33 years in prison in 2016, charged with corruption, possession of illegal firearms and planning to kill by triggering an explosion on his speedboat.

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