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Arrested Maldives vice president threat to national security: Yameen

(AFP) – Maldives President Abdulla Yameen on Sunday branded his deputy a threat to national security after his arrest over an alleged attempt to assassinate Yameen in a speedboat bombing last month. Soldiers and police patrolled the streets of the capital Male in stepped-up security, one day after vice president Ahmed Adeeb’s arrest as he arrived back in the honeymoon islands from an official trip abroad. The arrest followed a series of sackings of government officials, which have fuelled political unrest and further damaged the Maldives’ image as an upmarket tourist destination. "The vice president is being detained for the safety and security of the entire nation," Yameen said in a nationally televised address. The president was unhurt in the September 28 blast on his boat, which authorities described as an assassination attempt. The explosion left his wife and two others slightly injured. Yameen claimed bomb-making equipment had been discovered during raids on the homes of Adeeb’s associates in the capital on Saturday. "During raids on close associates of Adeeb, police found bomb-making material," the president said. "There are many allegations concerning the vice president," he added. A court ordered Adeeb detained for 15 days to give police more time for investigations. The government has said he would be charged with "high treason". Police carried out a series of raids including on Adeeb’s residence and those of his first and second wives, that ended overnight on Saturday, according to a police source. – Crackdown on dissent – The arrest comes after the archipelago faced tough international criticism over the jailing of its first democratically elected leader Mohamed Nasheed, after a rushed trial that the UN said was seriously flawed. Yameen, who came to power in November 2013 following a controversial election, jailed Nasheed for 13 years in March on terror-related charges and faces international censure over his crackdown on dissent. Supporters of Nasheed, the main opposition leader, have maintained that the conviction was part of a strategy by Yameen’s regime to silence him. Hours before Adeeb’s arrest, the president sacked his police chief, 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 fired his main government spokesman Mohamed Shareef, a minister in his cabinet. In his address Yameen accused Adeeb of trying to destroy evidence and blocking the inquiry into the blast, without giving details. "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," Yameen said. Adeeb was also stripped of key positions as head of a regulatory investment body and co-chair of a policy-making economic council, Yameen’s office said in a statement. Adeeb was escorted away by police as he disembarked from a Singapore Airlines flight on Saturday, with a coastguard boat taking him to the nearby prison island of Dhoonidhoo. Yameen appointed Adeeb as his deputy three months ago after impeaching his original running mate Mohamed Jameel on charges of treason. He had changed the Maldives’ constitution to reduce the permissible age of a vice president from 35 to 30 so that Adeeb could be given the job. Adeeb, who had a meteoric rise in politics, was also a hate figure for the main opposition, which accused him of sending underworld gangs to launch attacks against dissidents.

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