Ex-leader pleads for Indian intervention


China, which has huge investments in the Maldives, however has asked thousands of its nationals to cancel their holiday travel plans for this month s week-long Chinese New Year Holiday which begins on February 15. Both the United Kingdom and the U.S. warned its citizens to exercise caution.

Political turmoil has swept the Maldives since the surprise court ruling last week ordering the release of the opposition leaders, including many of Yameen's main political rivals.

How will the latest round of political strife play out in the Indian Ocean archipelago?

The bad blood between Yameen and the political opposition goes back years.

Abdulla Yameen, in three separate letters to Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, said the Supreme Court had failed to provide a solution to concerns raised by the chief prosecutor.

The Criminal Court also passed an order to arrest the Judicial Administrator, but the Supreme Court annulled it saying that the lower court had not followed the correct procedure. Nasheed was the first democratically-elected leader of the island nation who was forced into exile in Sri Lanka after a government crackdown.

On Sunday, Attorney General Mohamed Anil told the media that government has information about the Supreme Court's plan to pass an order to arrest and impeach Yameen.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the court complex and police used pepper spray to disperse the crowds.

Fearing trouble, the Speaker made a decision to postpone the parliament session indefinitely and the Security Forces surrounded parliament.

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The head of the armed forces is publicly backing Yameen.

"The arrest of former President Gayoom is an additional blow to the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of the Maldives", the spokesperson said. With their return to parliament, President Abdulla Yameen's Progressive Party would have lost its majority in the 85-member house.

China has invested heavily in Maldives, which has emerged as a vital link in its maritime Silk Road initiative: a network of financial, military and political alliances between Beijing and Indian Ocean region states to further its economic and strategic dominance.

How did we get here?

Gayoom was president from 1978 to 2008, when the Maldives became a multiparty democracy.

In 2009, he held an underwater cabinet meeting in an effort to press the world to cap carbon emissions. President Xi Jinping declared that "China deems the Maldives as an important partner" in this initiative and Yameen repaid the favour by claiming that the Maldives viewed China "among (its) closest friends" and that "the Belt and Road Initiative has greatly helped the development of many small and medium countries".

"We are disturbed by the declaration of a State of Emergency in the Maldives following the refusal of the Government to abide by the unanimous ruling of the full bench of the Supreme Court on 1 February, and also by the suspension of Constitutional rights of the people of Maldives", the Ministry for External Affairs said in a brief statement.

The tensions have already hurt the tourism industry - the largest contributor to the country's economy - despite government assurances that visitors are safe.