Prez Adudullah Yameen’s move gives sweeping powers to security forces.
Male: Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen on Monday declared a 15-day state of Emergency, his aide Azima Shukoor announced, deepening the political crisis in the Indian Ocean nation.
The move gives sweeping powers to security forces to arrest and detain suspects, and comes amid a tense standoff between the Supreme Court and the government.
The President has refused to comply with a court order to release political prisoners, despite growing international pressure and concern.
Mr Shukoor read out the declaration on state television shortly after Yameen sent three letters to the judges asking them to reverse their decision.
This is the second time Yameen has declared a state of emergency. He last took the step in November 2015 after an alleged attempt to assassinate him.
Officials said the president is required to inform the parliament about any declaration of emergency within two days, but the country's legislature has been suspended indefinitely by authorities.
The Supreme Court on Thursday had also restored the seats of 12 MPs who had defected from Yameen's party, effectively handing the opposition a majority in the 85-member parliament, making the president vulnerable to impeachment.
Meanwhile, Opposition leaders in the Maldives urged the international community on Monday to pressure President Abdulla Yameen into obeying a court order to free political prisoners and “restore democracy” to the troubled honeymoon islands.
Mr Yameen’s regime has so far refused to release nine jailed dissidents and reinstate Opposition lawmakers as ordered by the Maldives’ top court in a shock ruling last week that has deepened turmoil in the atoll nation.
The Supreme Court on Sunday asked Yameen to comply with its order, saying the dissidents must be released because their trials were politically motivated and flawed.
But the strongman leader has remained defiant, suspending parliament, ordering the arrest of two returning opposition defectors and staging a rally late Sunday with hundreds of supporters in the capital Male.
In a letter addressed to the international community, Maldive opposition lawmakers appealed for external support in persuading Yameen to end the tense standoff with the country’s highest court.
“We request the international community, including India, Sri Lanka, the US, Britain, the EU... to do everything in their power to help return power to the people of the Maldives and restore democracy,” the statement read.
Yameen has faced increasing pressure to respect Thursday’s landmark court ruling, with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the weekend calling for “restraint” as the crisis escalated.
The United Nations, Australia, Britain, Canada, India and the United States welcomed the court’s decision as a move towards restoring democracy in the troubled Indian Ocean nation.