President Abdulla Yameen has sacked his defence minister Moosa Ali Jaleel in what appears to be a shakeup of the security forces.
Jaleel, a former chief of the defence forces, was appointed as defence minister in January, on the same day his predecessor was sacked after the discovery of weapons at his home.
Jaleel’s removal, announced on Twitter at midnight by the president’s spokesman, comes in the wake of an explosion on the president’s speedboat, which the government says was a deliberate attack on Yameen’s life.
Raeesuljumhooriyyaa, Defence Minister kamuge maqaamugai hunnevi Moosa Ali Jaleel, e maqaamun vaki kuravvaifi
— Ibrahim Muaz Ali (@SpokespersonMV) October 13, 2015
Ibrahim Muaz Ali, the president’s spokesman, did not give a reason for the dismissal. He was not responding to calls at the time of going to press.
The head of a military unit tasked with providing security and the police intelligence chief were also replaced last week. Three soldiers were arrested in connection to the blast.
Two of Vice President Ahmed Adeeb’s bodyguards have also been suspended.
Adeeb, who departed for Beijing to attend a conference, has sought to address speculation of his involvement in the attack by declaring his unwavering loyalty to Yameen in two media appearances.
He departed for Beijing to attend a conference yesterday.
Soon after Jaleel was appointed defence minister, he was charged with terrorism over the detention of a top judge during former President Mohamed Nasheed’s tenure.
Jaleel, despite heading the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) at the time of the judge’s arrest, said he had no role in or influence over the decision.
In the midst of his trial, Jaleel, along with Adeeb, led a motorcycle rally in Malé calling on the courts to sentence Nasheed.
The former president was sentenced to 13 years in prison. Jaleel was later acquitted.
Jaleel, who had served in the army for 32 years, retired in the wake of Nasheed’s ouster in February 2012. In January the next year, he told a parliamentary committee that he believed the former president had resigned under duress.
He signed on to Yameen’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) in January 2014. A few months later, he was appointed as the Maldives’ ambassador to Pakistan.
Jaleel’s predecessor Mohamed Nazim is serving an 11-year jail term on weapons smuggling charges. Nazim’s predecessor Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu was sentenced to ten years in prison over the judge’s arrest.
Correction: October 17, 2015: This article previously said two soldiers and an immigration official were arrested in connection to the boat blast. This is incorrect. All three arrested over the explosion are MNDF officers. An immigration official was never arrested in this case.