Maldives parliament impeaches vice president amid security crackdown

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Colombo (dpa) – The Parliament of Maldives Thursday unanimously voted to impeach the country’s Vice President Ahmed Adheeb currently in custody for his alleged involvement in a bomb attack on a boat carrying the president, officials said.

Sixty-one members voted in favour of the motion a day after the southern Asian nation declared a month-long state of emergency for security reasons.

Earlier Thursday, security forces in the Maldives capital found an explosive device, which was found near a harbour in the western part of Male, and was defused without causing damage or harm, a police spokesman said.

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s supporters welcomed the impeachment of Adheeb, who was not given an opportunity to respond to the allegations.

The motion said that Adheeb should be removed since he was facing criminal allegations and was subsequently unable to perform duties as the vice president and the deputy leader of the ruling progressive party.

Twenty members of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) boycotted the vote.

Parliament was also meeting to ratify Yameen’s decision on Wednesday to impose the state of emergency amid rising political tensions.

The measure was taken as “a pre-emptive and precautionary action by the government in light of several significant security threats that have emerged in the last week,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Dunya Maumoon said in a statement.

“The measures taken are to ensure that security forces are given all possible assistance in their mission to investigate and detain individuals or groups who seek to create instability or subvert the democratic institutions of the country,” she said.

The tourism industry was not affected, and the country’s airports, transport hubs and tourist resorts remained secure, she said.

Political tension has been building in the Maldives since a September 28 explosion on a speed boat carrying President Yameen and his wife, followed by the arrest of Vice President Adheeb.

Several buildings used by Adheeb’s associates have since been searched. The president claimed that his deputy was trying to oust him from office.

The MDP, led by former president Mohamed Nasheed, has planned a protest march for Friday. Nasheed is currently serving a 13-year jail term after being sentenced earlier this year for ordering the arrest of a senior judge in 2012.

His opposition has labelled the state-of-emergency declaration “disproportionate.”

International pressure was mounting on the Maldivian government to lift the state of emergency and restore full constitutional freedom.

The US government in a statement called on Maldives “to respect and protect freedom of expression and the important role of civil society, both of which are essential to any robust democracy.”

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