Saturday 24 August 2019

Maldives impeaches vice president accused of plotting to kill president

Policemen patrol near the Maldivian parliament as members vote on the impeachment motion against vice-president Ahmed Adeeb in Male (AP)
Policemen patrol near the Maldivian parliament as members vote on the impeachment motion against vice-president Ahmed Adeeb in Male (AP)
A state of emergency has been declared in the Maldives (AP)

The Maldives parliament has voted overwhelmingly to impeach the country's vice president, who will be charged with terrorism for plotting to kill the president, a minister said.

Ahmed Adeeb is the second vice president to be impeached in three months.

He has been arrested for allegedly planning to kill President Yameen Abdul Gayoom in an explosion on his speedboat on September 28. Mr Adeeb has denied involvement in the blast.

The impeachment motion received 61 votes in favour and none opposed in the 85-member parliament. The main opposition group, the Maldivian Democratic Party, abstained.

"We have passed the impeachment with an overwhelming majority. We thought 57 votes would do the job but we got 61," home minister Umar Naseer said.

"Now the vice president is out of office and we will charge him under the recent terrorism law," Mr Naseer said.

The government recently passed a tough terrorism law aiming to deal with Maldivians sympathising with Islamic State (IS). If found guilty Mr Adeeb could face up to 25 years in jail.

"This will be a new beginning for the government and because of him the government suffered a lot of problems."

The president, who was not hurt in the blast, has declared a state of emergency, saying the explosion and subsequent discovery of arms posed a threat to national security.

The military said on Monday that it found a home-made bomb in a vehicle parked near the president's official residence and deactivated it. Days earlier it said an arms cache was found on an island being developed as a tourist resort.

Mr Adeeb, 33, who was once Mr Gayoom's trusted protege, became vice president in July after the impeachment of his predecessor, Mohamed Jameel, who had fallen out of the president's favour.

Politicians from Mr Gayoom's party even changed the constitution to reduce the minimum age for presidents and vice presidents from 35 to 30 to enable Mr Adeeb to take office.

But suspicion immediately fell on Mr Adeeb after the explosion on Mr Gayoom's boat, and he was arrested at the airport as he returned from an official visit to China.

The government has called the explosion an assassination attempt. The US FBI, which investigated the explosion at the government's request, said it found no evidence that it was caused by a bomb.

Maldives, better known for its beaches and luxury island resorts, has had a difficult transition to democracy since holding its first multi-party election in 2008.

PA Media

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