Maldives opposition says blocked from entering parliament for impeachment vote

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 24, 2017 8:57 AM

(Reuters) - Soldiers and police in the Maldives roughed up opposition lawmakers and sprayed pepper on Monday, preventing them from entering parliament to take part in an impeachment vote against the speaker, two opposition leaders said.

The opposition is trying to unseat Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed, an ally of President Abdulla Yameen, for blocking its requests to summon government officials accused of corruption.

The soldiers and police surrounded the parliament building and stopped 30 opposition legislators from entering the premises, the chairperson of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party Hassan Latheef told Reuters by telephone from Male.

"We were dragged, pepper sprayed, and teargassed by the police and brutally stopped from entering the parliament," Latheef said.

He blamed Yameen for ordering the closure, saying he was sure of losing the vote. Government officials were not immediately available for comment.

The Indian Ocean island nation has been mired in political unrest since Mohamed Nasheed, its first democratically elected president, was ousted in 2012.

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

The move to impeach the speaker gathered momentum after 10 Yameen loyalists in the 85-member legislature defected and joined the opposition to unseat him.

(Corrects the designation of opposition leader)

(Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Nick Macfie)