Maldives troops blockade parliament as crisis worsens
Malé, Maldives - Maldivian troops blockaded parliament and clashed with opposition leaders for a second day, witnesses said on Tuesday, as political turmoil escalated in the troubled honeymoon islands.
The latest turbulence came as the UK urged its citizens to take caution in the capital Male after soldiers tear gassed protesting politicians there.
Soldiers barred the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) from entering the heavily guarded parliament complex again on Tuesday, with witnesses reporting shoving as MPs were forced back from the barricade.
“Even when parliament is not in session, MPs are free to go to the building and attend to their work, but it is not allowed now,” MDP spokesman Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said. “This is ridiculous.”
The parliament gates were padlocked by soldiers on Monday in a move described as illegal by exiled Maldivian opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed.
An opposition coalition, united against President Abdulla Yameen, had been threatening to move a no-confidence motion against the speaker in a bid to impeach the President’s ally.
But MPs trying to enter the compound were hit with pepper spray and forcibly evicted.
Yameen’s office said in a statement on Tuesday that parliament was closed ahead of an ‘incoming VVIP visit’.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is in the Maldives as the tropical island nation celebrates its 52nd anniversary, the Pakistan High Commission in Sri Lanka said.
“The special measures taken by the security forces at the parliament building on 24 July 2017 were to ensure the security and safety of the premises, as mandated by the... constitution,” Yameen’s office said.