An exiled former president of the Maldives has urged India to send an envoy backed by military to release political prisoners.

The call by Mohamed Nasheed came after the government of the Indian Ocean archipelago imposed a state of emergency and arrested two senior judges.

The Maldives was plunged into crisis last week after the supreme court quashed terrorism convictions against nine leading opposition figures, including Mr Nasheed, the country's first democratically elected president.

Having defied the court ruling to release the detainees, President Abdulla Yameen declared an emergency and ordered security forces to seize control of the court and arrest the chief justice and another judge.

The crisis comes during peak tourist season in the Maldives when tens of thousands of tourist visit the country’s beaches.

Several countries, including Ireland, the UK, China, the United States, and India, have issues travel advisories for the islands.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said: "Irish citizens should exercise extreme caution, pay attention to safety and local security updates, and avoid any protests or public gatherings."

Mr Nasheed, who was granted asylum by Britain after the government allowed him to leave jail for medical treatment abroad in 2016, sought Indian intervention to resolve the Maldives most serious political crisis in years.

Mr Nasheed, who is currently in Colombo in Sri Lanka, also urged the US to block financial transactions of Mr Yameen's government.

Since Mr Yameen took control of the overwhelmingly Muslim country of 400,000 people in 2013, his government has faced heavy criticism over the detention of opponents, political influence over the judiciary and the lack of freedom of speech.

Addressing the nation on state television, he said he had acted to prevent a coup, and suggested that the judges had chosen to side with his opponents because they were being investigated for corruption.

As part of the crackdown, police also detained Mr Yameen's half-brother, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had ruled the Maldives for 30 years until 2008 and now stands with the opposition.

Mr Gayoom was detained at his residence along with his son-in-law.

But Mr Gayoom's son Faris, who was one of the imprisoned opposition leaders that the court ordered to be freed, has been released. Other opponents of Mr Yameen remain in prison.