MALE (AFP) - The Maldives has warned India against interfering in its political crisis, deepening a rift with the country once seen as its closest ally.
New Delhi has expressed concern about the situation in the honeymoon islands, whose president has sacked top judges, jailed political dissidents and imposed a state of emergency in recent weeks.
On Wednesday it said it was "deeply dismayed" by the extension of emergency rule, earning an official rebuke from the Maldives foreign ministry.
"There is no doubt that the Maldives is experiencing one of the most difficult periods in the history of the nation," the islands' ministry said in a statement late Thursday (Feb 22).
"It is therefore important that friends and partners in the international community, including India, refrain from any actions that could hinder resolving the situation facing the country."
Maldives President Abdulla Yameen has jailed almost all his political opponents since coming to power in late 2013 and the resulting fall-out has dented the nation's image as a popular holiday destination.
The UN human rights chief has described the imposition of a state of emergency following a power struggle with the Supreme Court as "an all-out assault on democracy".
Exiled opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed has urged India to intervene militarily in the crisis - a request the government has not publicly addressed.
The Yameen regime has leaned heavily on India's regional rival China for political and financial support to build infrastructure in the nation of 1,190 tiny coral islands.
Despite criticism from the international community, legislators from Yameen's party on Tuesday controversially approved a 30-day extension of emergency rule.