United Nations Secretary General António Guterres on Tuesday urged Maldives to lift the state of emergency “as soon as possible”, and uphold the Constitution and rule of law. He appealed to the government to take all steps to ensure security of citizens, “including members of the judiciary”.

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen had declared a 15-day state of emergency on Monday after defying a Supreme Court directive to release political prisoners. Hours later, security forces stormed into the court premises and arrested two judges, including the chief justice. The police also arrested former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

In a statement, Guterres’ spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said that the UN secretary general was “seriously concerned” about the situation in the island nation, especially the emergency and the entry of security forces into the premises of the Supreme Court.

Miroslav Jenca, assistant secretary general of the UN for political affairs, spoke to Maldives Foreign Minister Mohamed Asim on phone, and shared Guterres’ concern about the situation, PTI reported.

Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq said Jenca had stressed “the importance of upholding the Constitution and the rule of law, in particular the need to preserve the independence of the judiciary”. He also urged the government to release the Supreme Court judges urgently.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court revoked its order to free the political prisoners, “in light of the concerns raised by the president”.