Pro-opposition Maldives broadcaster shuts over threats

Raajje TV has stopped airing its regular broadcast over continued threats to the station and its staff. PHOTO: SCREENSHOT FROM RAAJJE.MV

MALE, Maldives (AFP) - A pro-opposition television network in the Maldives shut down Friday (Feb 9) following threats to its staff, as the government continued a clampdown on dissent that has sparked international concern.

Raajje TV said threats to its employees over their reporting on the political crisis in the picturesque Indian Ocean archipelago had forced it to suspend broadcasts.

"The broadcaster received threats from government legislators and others," said opposition lawmaker Eva Abdulla.

The Maldives was plunged into crisis this week when President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency and ordered the arrest of judges who had ordered the release of his political opponents.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged Yameen to lift the state of emergency while UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has described Yameen's actions as "an all-out assault on democracy."

On Thursday a top UN official warned the Security Council that the situation was tense and may deteriorate even further.

Street protests have so far been relatively muted, but opposition and ruling parties have called their supporters onto the streets for rallies after Friday prayers.

Yameen, who has had almost all the political opposition jailed since he came to power in 2013, is resisted mounting international pressure over the crisis.

On Thursday, he refused to meet with diplomats from the European Union, Germany and Britain who had travelled to the honeymoon island nation for talks.

China, India and several Western governments have advised their citizens against travelling to the Maldives in the light of the latest unrest.

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