The president of the Maldives has appealed for calm after his deputy was arrested for allegedly plotting to have him killed. Soldiers and police have stepped up security, patrolling the capital Male's streets all day.
Maldivian President Yameen Abdul Gayoom said the arrest of Vice President Ahmed Adeeb was made in the best interest of the country.
Adeeb had been detained on Saturday, nearly a month after an explosion aboard President Yameen Abdul Gayoom's boat, which was later determined to be an assassination attempt.
"The decision (to arrest) was not easy, but it was taken for the security of the country," Gayoom told reporters.
A criminal court allowed police to detain Adeeb for 15 days for questioning. He was not brought to court, but judges linked up with him and his lawyers through teleconferencing. Home Minister Umar Naseer had said on Saturday that Adeeb would be charged with "high treason," an offense not specified in the penal code but used in the Maldives for terrorism or offenses against the state by government officials, lawmakers, judges and others.
From loyalist to traitor?
Adeeb's lawyer, Hussain Shameem, squarely denied the allegations against the vice president. But President Gayoom said that a criminal investigation had pointed to links between Adeeb and two soldiers who had been arrested for tampering with evidence on the presidential boat soon after the blast on September 28. He said that the police had found bomb-making materials at the homes of the soldiers in a subsequent raid.
The president said that, while he had dismissed Adeeb from heading some committees as the investigation was pending, he would not initiate an impeachment to strip him of the vice presidency until his case was decided by a court. Gayoom also described his deputy as a continuing threat to national security even after his arrest.
"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," the president said in a televised address.
Ahmed Adeeb was known as a staunch Gayoom loyalist and became vice president in July at the age of 33. Gayoom was instrumental in promoting Adeeb from tourism minister after the president got his lawmakers in parliament to impeach the previous vice president, Mohamed Jameel, also on treason charges.
Gayoom was unhurt when an explosion went off on his speedboat while he was traveling to Male, the capital, from the airport at the end of a hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. Gayoom's wife, an aide and a bodyguard were injured in the blast.
Authorities had said initially that the explosion could have been the result of mechanical failure but announced later that it had been an attempt to assassinate Gayoom. The device used to set off the explosion had been placed under the seat usually occupied by the president, who escaped uninjured because he was not sitting there.
ss/rc (AFP, AP)