The president of the Maldives declared a state of emergency on Wednesday sharply curtailing key rights of citizens for 30 days following an explosion on his speedboat and the discoveries of a homemade bomb near his residence and a weapons cache. Attorney General Mohamed Anil said President Yameen Abdul Gayoom made the decision to safeguard public safety. "Because these would be a threat to the public and the nation, the National Security Council has advised to take immediate steps to protect the people of Maldives," he said. Under the state of emergency, the military and police are able to search homes without warrants and can make arrests virtually at will.
Citizens are also forbidden to hold protests or labor strikes or to travel between the country's many islands. The declaration effectively thwarts plans by the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party to hold a mass rally on Friday demanding the release of its jailed leader, former President Mohamed Nasheed. Maldives has been tense since a Sept. 28 blast on the president's speedboat and a subsequent series of arrests of people, including Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, on suspicion of involvement. Gayoom was unhurt by the blast, which the government called an assassination attempt. The FBI said it found no evidence the blast was caused by a bomb. (Read more Maldives stories.)