Ibrahim Muaz Ali, the former spokesman at the president’s office, has cast doubt on an alleged attempt to assassinate his former boss with a bomb on the presidential speedboat, alleging a video showing fire was doctored.
The Finifenmaa speedboat blast in September 2015 injured former first lady Fathimath Ibrahim, a presidential aide and a bodyguard, but former president Abdulla Yameen escaped unhurt.
His deputy, former vice president Ahmed Adeeb, was convicted in June 2016 of orchestrating the bomb plot along with two military bodyguards. Adeeb, who was serving 33 years in prison on multiple counts of corruption and terrorism, was released to house arrest in November.
At an impromptu press conference Wednesday night, Muaz denied seeing “any trace” of fire on the speedboat and insinuated that the video was edited to show flames.
Such an edit could have easily been made by a video editor, he suggested.
He was told by then-home minister Umar Naseer to show the video to the press days after the blast, he said.
Muaz also said it was Yameen who told him to organise a press conference at the official jetty in Malé instead of at the airport, where the president usually met reporters after foreign trips.
The boat blast occurred just as Finifenma was about to dock at the Izzudeen jetty in the capital en route from the nearby airport island. The president and first lady were returning from Saudi Arabia after performing the Hajj pilgrimage.
Shortly after the press conference, the Progressive Party of Maldives led by Yameen denounced Muaz’s claims as “blatant lies” and threatened disciplinary action against him.
But Muaz, a PPM council member, also announced his resignation from the main opposition party.
According to Muaz, Yameen was distressed as he headed to the speedboat and he did not sit at his usual seat, which was occupied by the first lady.
“[Former] first lady fell right in front of my seat,” Muaz said, describing the moment of the blast and the chaotic aftermath, noting that there was no sign of worry or concern on the president’s face.
He urged the authorities to investigate the incident and denied trying to slander Yameen or questioning whether the explosion was caused by a bomb.
His claims about the blast comes with Adeeb’s newly-formed Maldives Third-Way Democrats party advocating for his exoneration from “unjust accusations.”
Muaz went on to praise Adeeb. Both the opposition and figures within the government and ruling party were intimidated by the powerful vice president and believed he had to be removed to weaken Yameen.
“I have, very closely, seen the jealousy towards Adeeb within the party [PPM]. There is no need to say their names,” he said.
“So it will be difficult to disrupt that connection [between Yameen and Adeeb] by just a small thing. Only a very big accusation would create rifts between them. That’s how I feel in my heart.”