Maldives vice president arrested for plotting president’s attempted assassination
– Dr. Abdul Ruff
Maldivian authorities today arrested the nation’s Vice President Ahmed Adeeb over a plot to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen, who escaped death after his boat was hit by a bomb. The Maldivian home minister Umar Naseer said this. “VP Adheeb under arrest and held in Dhoonidhoo Detention (prison island),” Umar Naseer said on Twitter, using a different spelling of the vice president’s name. “Charges: high treason.”
The attack on the president’s speedboat occurred as he was about to disembark on Male after taking part in the hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
Ten days ago, President Yameen sacked his defence minister Moosa Ali Jaleel after the explosion aboard his speed boat as he returned home after a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
President Yameen had appointed his deputy Adeeb, 33, three months ago after impeaching his original running mate Mohamed Jameel, also on charges of treason.
Maldivian authorities have arrested two security personnel who had access to Yameen’s boat but have yet to disclose what caused the explosion.
The security shake up followed a reshuffle of key officials in the wake of the 28 September explosion aboard Yameen’s boat, as he was about to disembark at the capital island Male. The Maldivian leader was unhurt in the blast but his wife and two others suffered minor injuries.
Adeeb, 33, was arrested at the Maldives’ main international airport located on a small islet near the capital island of Male at around noon local time (0700 GMT) Saturday as he returned home from Singapore. Hours before the dramatic arrest Saturday, the president sacked his police chief Hussain Waheed, the latest in a series of firings seen by some as a purge of individuals whose loyalties may be in doubt. Defence minister Moosa Ali Jaleel was sacked 10 days ago, while on Thursday Yameen also fired his main government spokesman Mohamed Shareef, a minister in his cabinet.
Shareef, who flew to nearby Sri Lanka soon after the September 28 blast, said the explosion may have been a mechanical issue, but the authorities later declared it to be an assassination attempt.
Later, Maldivian police confirmed his detention was linked to an investigation into the September 28 blast aboard Yameen’s speedboat, which left the leader unhurt but his wife and two others slightly injured. “Vice President Ahmed Adeeb has been arrested under a court warrant for the investigation into the explosion aboard the presidential speedboat,” Maldivian police said on Twitter and an official website.
Adeeb was unceremoniously escorted away by police as he disembarked from a Singapore Airlines flight, with a coastguard boat taking him to the nearby prison island of Dhoonidhoo. Dozens of Adeeb’s supporters who had arrived at the official jetty in Male to greet him were turned back by police in the tiny one-square-mile (2.5 square-kilometre) capital island.
Authorities said they were preparing to deploy soldiers and police to maintain calm following the arrest. “Security in Male has been tightened,” police spokesman Abdulla Nawaz told reporters in the capital. “Police won’t allow any violence in the capital city. Both police and the army will be deployed to patrol the streets of Male.” Official sources said four of the vice president’s associates were arrested shortly before Adeeb’s detention and were also being held on the prison island.
Yameen had changed the Maldives’ constitution to reduce the permissible age of a vice president from 35 to 30 so that the 33-year-old Adeeb could be given the job and appointed Adeeb as his deputy three months ago after impeaching his original running mate Mohamed Jameel on charges of treason.
Adeeb, who had a meteoric rise in politics, was also a hate figure for the country’s main opposition, which accused him of sending underworld gangs to launch attacks against dissidents.
Yameen will not be able to sack Adeeb unless he gets the backing of opposition legislators in the national parliament.
The Maldives has seen its image as a peaceful holiday destination for well heeled honeymooners dented by political turmoil since the toppling of the country’s first democratically elected leader Mohamed Nasheed in February 2012.
Yameen, who came to power in November 2013 following a highly controversial election, jailed Nasheed for 13 years in March and faces international censure over his crackdown on dissent. A UN panel last month asked him to free Nasheed and pay him compensation for his wrongful incarceration, a demand rejected by Yameen.