The Maldives opposition leader and two Supreme Court judges were arrested early Tuesday, hours after the government declared an emergency in the Indian Ocean nation that has been increasingly in turmoil in the days since the court ordered several jailed politicians to be freed. The charges against opposition leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom include bribery and attempting to overthrow the government, his lawyer said on Twitter. Gayoom was president from 1978 to 2008, when Maldives became a multiparty democracy, and is the half brother of the current president, under whose rule the archipelago has lost many of its democratic gains, the AP reports.
The 15-day emergency decree issued late Monday gives the government sweeping powers to make arrests, search and seize property, and restrict freedom of assembly, officials said. Soon after the declaration, security forces stormed into the Supreme Court building, where Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Judge Ali Hamid were arrested. The charges against them haven't been specified. The whereabouts of the court's other two judges were not known Tuesday morning. Since the surprise unanimous ruling last week ordering the release of imprisoned opposition leaders, President Yameen Abdul Gayoom has lashed out at the court, opposition protests have spilled into the streets of the capital, Male, and soldiers in riot gear have stopped lawmakers from meeting in the parliament building.