President Abdulla Yameen and First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim departed for Singapore on an unofficial visit last night in the first couple’s first overseas trip since the September 28 blast on the presidential speedboat.
Ibrahim Muaz Ali, the president’s spokesperson, said in a tweet that the first couple left on a “private visit.” Muaz did not say when the president is expected to return.
The first couple was seen off by Minister of Defense and National Security Adam Shareef and senior officials of the state-owned Maldives Airports Company Ltd.
Yameen came under heavy criticism during the early days of his presidency for his frequent unofficial visits to Singapore, which fuelled speculation of the president seeking medical treatment for a serious illness.
In January 2015, opposition leader former President Mohamed Nasheed urged Yameen to reveal information “regarding expenses of the president from funds raised by public taxation.”
The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party also asked the president’s office to provide details on Yameen’s health and visits to Singapore.
But the president’s spokesperson denied rumours of Yameen’s ill health at the time, saying the government was not obliged to disclose details about private trips to the public.
In 2014, Yameen had traveled to Singapore at least five times between July 29 and the end of November. This included two stop-overs in Singapore – one in August and one in November, 2014 – on the way to China and Nepal, respectively.