President appoints new defence and tourism ministers

President appoints new defence and tourism ministers
October 28 18:23 2015

President Abdulla Yameen has appointed Adam Shareef as the minister of defence and national security and Moosa Zameer as the minister of tourism.

Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed administered oaths of office to the new ministers at a ceremony held at the president’s office this afternoon.

Shareef was previously state minister for education and had served in various posts at the ministry. He was also in charge of the Institute for Higher Education.

Zameer is a former MP and a council member of ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM). A close associate of the president, he was also a founding member of the now-defunct People’s Alliance party along with Yameen.

The appointments are subject to parliamentary approval. The ruling coalition controls a comfortable majority in the 85-member People’s Majlis.

Shareef replaces Moosa Ali Jaleel, a retired major general, who was sacked in the wake of a blast on the president’s speedboat on September 28. The government says the explosion was caused by a bomb targeting Yameen.

Vice President Ahmed Adeeb was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of plotting to assassinate the president.

Yameen revealed in a public address on Sunday that Jaleel was dismissed when it emerged that he had authorised the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) to import fireworks without consulting the president or senior military officers.

The shipment was rushed through customs, Yameen said, without a proper check of what was inside the crates. Explosives from the fireworks could have been used to make a bomb, he suggested.

Jaleel is not a suspect, Yameen said, but was sacked because of his family connections to Colonel Ahmed ‘Papa’ Fayaz, the former head of the special unit tasked with protecting the president and senior state officials. Fayaz was also in charge of the armoury and the military’s explosive ordnance disposal unit.

He is being detained at the military barracks along with a former bodyguard of the vice president.

The tourism ministry portfolio has meanwhile been vacant since Adeeb’s appointment as vice president on July 22. Adeeb continued to be in charge of the ministry until he was stripped of the portfolio a few days before his arrest.

Yameen also revealed that “bomb-making materials” were found in the home of three soldiers arrested on suspicion of tampering with evidence. The explosive experts had inspected the “Finifenma” speedboat after the blast.

The police have since established links between the soldiers and Adeeb’s bodyguards, he said.

Abdulla Ziyath, a close associate of the vice president and the MMPRC’s managing director, is also under police custody.

Haris Mohamed, the former general manager of the government-owned Maldives Airports Company Ltd, was meanwhile appointed acting managing director of the MMPRC today. Haris was appointed to the MMPRC board of directors earlier this week.

Meanwhile, during Sunday’s public address, Yameen had also reflected on the dismissal and resignation of some eight cabinet ministers during the first two years of his presidency.

“I can say my government is rather eventful,” he said.

Adam Shareef becomes the third defence minister under Yameen’s administration. Jaleel’s predecessor, Mohamed Nazim, was found guilty of weapons smuggling in March and sentenced to 11 years in prison. The retired colonel maintains he was framed by rogue police officers acting on orders from then-Tourism Minister Adeeb.

 

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