Security forces shut down Maldives tourism corporation

Security forces shut down Maldives tourism corporation
October 18 11:03 2015

When employees of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), turned up to work at 8am today, they found three police and military officers blocking the entrance to the office.

“They did not provide us with a reason, but simply said we will not be allowed to enter,” a staff who wished to remain anonymous said.

The shut-down comes days after police and military officers raided the MMPRC’s fourth floor offices at Velaanaage. Police refused to comment on the cause for the search, but local media report that it was related to the explosion on President Abdulla Yameen’s speedboat on September 28.

The MMPRC is tasked with promoting Maldives tourism.

Confused staff milled in front of the MMPRC’s doors, and was not allowed to enter to fetch personal belongings. “We had no idea this would happen. We were not informed at all,” another staff said.

“We have no one to report to. Our Managing Director Abdulla Ziyath is not here,” she explained. After two hours of waiting, many have now left the building.

A police spokesman said the shut-down was connected to an ongoing investigation, and did not specify when the offices will be opened again.

Meanwhile, Ziyath has been barred from leaving the country and he has been summoned to the police today at 3pm for questioning. On Wednesday, his apartment was raided.

Ziyath is a close associate of Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, the former tourism minister.

The alleged assassination attempt on Yameen has deepened the Maldives’ political crisis with suspicion cast on Adeeb’s associates and a shakeup of the security forces, including the dismissal of the defence minister and the arrest of three soldiers. Some government officials seen as loyal to Adeeb have also been purged.

The vice president is in China to inaugurate an investment forum. He has vowed to return to the Maldives. The “truth will be known” once a special inquiry commission finishes its investigation, he has said.

The joint police and military commission is co-chaired by Yameen and his home minister.

A multi-national team of forensic experts inspected the boat within a day of the explosion, but their findings have not been made public yet.

Adeeb’s former bodyguard, Ahmed Amir, is being held under administrative detention at the military barracks at Kalhuthukala Koshi.

The head of the Maldives National Defence Force’s (MNDF) special protection group Ahmed ‘Papa’ Fayaz is also being held. He was dismissed from his post in the wake of the blast. The police intelligence chief has also been replaced.

Additional reporting by Hassan Mohamed and writing by Zaheena Rasheed