Maldivian authorities Saturday arrested the nation’s vice-president Ahmed Adeeb in connection with a plot to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen, who escaped death after his boat was hit by a bomb in September, Home Minister Umar Naseer said.
“VP Adeeb under arrest and held in Dhoonidhoo detention (prison island),” Naseer said on Twitter. “Charges: high treason.”
Yameen was unhurt in the Sept. 28 blast in his presidential boat Finifenmaa while he was returning from Saudi Arabia after the haj pilgrimage.
“We have arrested the vice president in relation to the Finifenmaa incident,” a police media official told Reuters.
Adheeb, who is currently in Singapore after inaugurating the Maldives Investment Forum in China, dismissed allegations that he was the mastermind behind the explosion.
Adheeb said Friday he will return to the Maldives on Saturday despite rumors that he had gone into exile.
Yameen on Friday fired his police chiefs in a continuation of a major security shake-up following the blast on his speedboat.
Police Commissioner Hussain Waheed, who has close ties to Adeeb, and is in Singapore on medical leave, has been appointed as the state housing minister.
His two deputies Hassan Habib and Mohamed Sodiq have been transferred to the gender ministry and housing ministry respectively.
Assistant police commissioner Ahmed Areef has been assigned temporary charge.
Yameen made a surprise visit to police headquarters in the capital Male and met with Hussain and other senior officers. Police did not reveal the details of the meeting while the police media official only said that it was “not an extraordinary meeting”.
Police and the military had raided homes, offices and property of Adheeb’s close associates following the blast further fueling rumors that the VP had orchestrated the blast.
The sacking of the police chiefs comes just over a week after the president fired his defence minister Moosa Ali Jaleel.
The president had also replaced the police intelligence chief, the armory chief and the head of personal security in the past week.
The MNDF’s SPG has also been split into two, with a new division created and put in charge of presidential security alone.
First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim, who suffered a spinal fracture in the blast, is still undergoing treatment in hospital.
Presidential secretary Fathimath Mohamed Solih and bodyguard Abdu Nasir received minor injuries including burns in the explosion.
Yameen, 59, is a controversial figure both at home and abroad. He rose to power in a bitterly contested presidential election in 2013.
The leader he defeated, Mohamed Nasheed, was jailed this year for terrorism in a case that has drawn international criticism.
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney called for international sanctions against the Maldives after visiting Nasheed this month.
A broader crackdown against political dissent belies the reputation of the Maldives as a holiday paradise, with radicalised youths enlisting in significant numbers to fight for Islamic State militants in the Middle East.