07/26/2017, 20.37
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Maldivian security forces lock down parliament to save president’s ally (Video)

Troops stopped opposition MDP lawmakers from entering parliament, shoving them away. They were planning to vote on a non-confidence motion against the speaker for alleged corruption, which could have brought down the government. For opposition leader, a coup is imminent.

Malé (AsiaNews) – The Maldives, a Muslim country in the Indian Ocean known to Western tourists for its sandy beaches, is in the grip of a major political crisis.

On Monday, Maldivian security forces locked down parliament on orders from President Yameen Abdul Gayoom, to deny access to lawmakers from the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). Several MPs were shoved back from the police barricade (see video). Two were arrested.

Parliament was planning to vote on non-confidence vote against the speaker, the president’s ally, on corruption charges.

For some experts, removing the speaker would have been the first step to remove Yameen himself, whose government is weakened by allegations of corruption and embezzlement.

The ban was still in place on Tuesday when fresh clashes broke out between MDP supporters and security forces. Protesters complained that the they were roughed up and pepper sprayed.

The authorities justified the action by saying that the day sitting had been cancelled because of celebrations marking 52 years of independence. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Shafir was to be a guest of honour.

The latest crisis does not come out of the blue. The country has been embroiled in political turmoil since 2012, when then President Mohamed Nasheed, head of the MDP and the country’s first democratically elected president, was removed from office.

Yameen Gayoom replaced the ousted president. He is the half-brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the country for 30 years in an autocratic fashion.

From exile in London, Great Britain, Nasheed in a statement said that he was "extremely worried about an imminent coup in the Maldives".

The opposition alleges the Yameen administration is trying to cover up corruption including money laundering.

The move to impeach the speaker had gathered momentum after ten Yameen loyalists in the 85-member legislature defected and joined the opposition to unseat the president. Monday was the first opportunity for them to do so.

"After Yameen (lost his) parliament majority, he is trying to use both military and police to suppress the opposition," said Eva Abdullah, an opposition MP.

“There is no better symbol of Yameen's dictatorship than the image of his security forces barring elected MPs from parliament. This president has lost all legitimacy and credibility," she added.

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