Maldives police disperse crowds celebrating court's freeing of opposition leaders

Crowds on the streets in the Maldives

AFP GETTYCrowds on the streets in the Maldives

He said this while addressing his supporters at the west end of Male' in front of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) campaign office (former West-Park zone).

Senior MDP (the main opposition party) leader and former foreign minister Ahmed Naseem told TOI that Yameen was working to appoint his "cronies" to the Supreme Court bench. "We've sat and started talking about difficulties or concerns the state has", he said. President Yameen must abide by this ruling and resign.

India along with the UN, the US, Australia, Britain and Canada had welcomed the court's decision as "a move towards restoring democracy in the politically troubled Indian Ocean nation".

Mr Nasheed has told the BBC he plans to return and compete in the elections due to take place later this year, although he did not say when.

"We must set up proper procedures for inclusive, free and fair elections with full worldwide observation".

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The US ambassador to the Maldives urged the country's leader to respect the court's judgement. An agency report late evening quoted him as saying that he was willing to hold early elections and that he was also looking to ensure that the court ruling is implemented in a manner that it doesn't cause "any difficulties to people". The decision effectively gave the opposition a majority in Parliament, which has the power to impeach the President.

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen today appeared in public for the first time since Thursday night's Supreme Court ruling, saying that he is now in talks with justices to find adequate room to enforce the ruling. The ruling also stated that political pressure was applied on the prosecutors and the courts during these trials. But ex-President Mohammed Nasheed, who is among the prisoners ordered freed, said he would challenge Yameen, who has rolled back many democratic reforms since coming to power five years ago.

"Instead of ruling on the matter, the Supreme Court reinstated parliamentarians that were removed from their seats for mounting an impeachment motion against the Speaker of Majlis, Abdulla Maseeh, a key ally of the president".

A delay by the Maldives government to free the political prisoners has resulted in street protests led by the Maldives opposition.

In another development, President Abdulla Yameen fired a national police chief for the second time in three days. He also came down heavily at the four opposition leaders, calling them frauds and criminals.

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