Maldives leader calls deputy a risk to national security

Mr Ahmed Adeeb was detained at Male International Airport on Saturday and taken to the prison island of Dhoonidhoo.
Mr Ahmed Adeeb was detained at Male International Airport on Saturday and taken to the prison island of Dhoonidhoo.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO ACENCY

Arrest of vice-president comes amid growing calls for regime to end crackdown on dissent

MALE • Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen yesterday called his deputy Ahmed Adeeb a national security threat after the vice-president was arrested over an alleged assassination attempt on him last month.

Soldiers and police patrolled the streets in the capital of Male as security was stepped up a day after Mr Adeeb was detained, on his return from an official trip abroad.

"The vice-president is being detained for the safety and security of the entire nation," Mr Yameen said in a nationally televised address.

PRESIDENT SAYS

Because of his influence over the police, it was deemed that an impartial investigation could not be carried out with the vice-president remaining in office.

MALDIVIAN PRESIDENT ABDULLA YAMEEN, on his deputy Ahmed Adeeb

"During raids on close associates of Adeeb, the police found bomb-making material," he said, adding "there are many allegations concerning the vice-president".

Mr Yameen, 56, was unhurt in the Sept 28 bomb blast on his speedboat, which the authorities describe as an assassination attempt. His wife and two others suffered slight injuries in the explosion.

The President's comments came as a court ordered Mr Adeeb, 33, to be detained for 15 days to give the police more time for investigations.

The government said on Saturday that he would be charged with "high treason".

Prolonged political unrest has dimmed the Maldives' allure as a popular tourist spot.

It was heavily criticised over the jailing of its first democratically elected leader, Mohamed Nasheed, after a rushed trial that the United Nations said was seriously flawed.

Mr Yameen, who came to power in November 2013 following a highly controversial election, jailed Nasheed for 13 years in March on terror-related charges. The President is facing international censure over his crackdown on dissent.

Supporters of Nasheed, the main opposition leader, maintain the conviction was part of a strategy by Mr Yameen's regime to silence him.

Hours before Mr Adeeb's arrest, the President fired his police chief - the latest in a series of sackings seen by some as a purge of individuals whose loyalties might be in doubt.

Mr Yameen had earlier sacked defence minister Moosa Ali Jaleel and main government spokesman Mohamed Shareef.

In his address, Mr Yameen accused Mr Adeeb of trying to destroy evidence and blocking the probe into the blast, but gave no details.

He said Mr Adeeb needed to be removed from his post because of his alleged and unspecified influence over the police.

"Because of his influence over the police, it was deemed that an impartial investigation could not be carried out with the vice-president remaining in office."

Mr Adeeb was unceremoniously escorted away by the police as he disembarked from a Singapore Airlines flight on Saturday. A coast guard boat took him to the nearby prison island of Dhoonidhoo.

Mr Yameen made him his deputy three months ago after impeaching his original running mate Mohamed Jameel on treason charges.

Mr Yameen had altered the Constitution to reduce the permissible age of a vice-president from 35 to 30 so Mr Adeeb could be given the job.

Mr Adeeb was a hate figure for the main opposition, which accused him of sending underworld gangs to launch attacks against dissidents.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2015, with the headline 'Maldives leader calls deputy a risk to national security'. Print Edition | Subscribe