The U.N. human rights chief has called the declaration of a state of emergency in the Maldives and the resulting suspension of constitutional guarantees an "all-out assault on democracy."

Political turmoil has swept the Maldives since a surprise court ruling last week that ordered the release of jailed opposition leaders, including many of President Yameen Abdul Gayoom's main political rivals. He imposed a state of emergency on Monday.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said Wednesday that the restrictions "create a dangerous concentration of power in the hands of the president."

Maldives became a multiparty democracy 10 years ago but lost much of those gains after Yameen was elected in 2013.