President Abdulla Yameen urged MPs of the ruling coalition and former partner Jumhooree Party (JP) to respect the outcome of an investigation into an apparent assassination attempt on his speedboat two weeks ago, according to an MP present at the closed-door two hour meeting.
Briefing more than 50 MPs of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), its ally the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) and JP this afternoon, Yameen is reported to have said the ongoing investigation is not targeting any specific party.
MPs must not allow the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to exploit the government’s vulnerability, Yameen repeatedly said, according to the MP who wished to remain anonymous.
The president escaped unhurt from the explosion, but the First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim remains hospitalized. Three soldiers have been arrested, and two of Vice President Ahmed Adeeb’s military bodyguards have been suspended.
The president appeared calm and confident, and expressed “500 percent confidence” in Adeeb, the MP said.
Yameen said he had spoken with Adeeb for a one and a half hours prior to meeting with MPs and had asked the vice president to defend himself through the media, the source added.
Adeeb is appearing on pro-government DhiTV tonight.
Yameen is reported to have praised Adeeb for his support in Yameen’s rise to power, and said Adeeb had denied rumors circulating on social media of his involvement in a no-confidence motion against the president, according to the MP.
Yameen went on to justify the suspension of Adeeb’s bodyguards saying that one of the bodyguards had acted suspiciously and had amassed unexplained wealth, the MP said.
On the night before Yameen’s return to the Maldives from Saudi Arabia, the bodyguard had called the president’s office to inform them Adeeb had fallen ill and would not receive the president. However, the same bodyguard called at dawn to check when the president’s flight was due to land, Yameen explained, according to the MP.
Yameen also spoke on the deployment of soldiers on Malé’s streets and warned MPs they could conduct checks, the source said, adding that Yameen had urged MPs to cooperate with such checks.
Yameen is reported to have spoken for some 40 minutes, after which individual MPs, including JP leader Gasim Ibrahim, spoke to condemn the attack and assure the president of their loyalty.
Yameen is reported to have said he now believes the government can work with the JP.
Gasim and Yameen’s relationship has been fraught, with the government freezing Gasim’s Villa Group accounts on a charge of failing to make payments on several properties leased for resort development.
The sanctions came after Gasim left the ruling coalition earlier this year to ally with with the MDP. In the ensuing political crisis, opposition leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed was arrested and sentenced to jail on a terrorism charge.
In August, Nasheed was returned to jail without a presidential pardon as expected by MDP.
Gasim’s backing was crucial in Yameen’s 2013 presidential win, but the pair fell out after the PPM refused to back Gasim for the parliament’s speakership.
Speaking to the press after the meeting, Gasim said the JP stands with the government and the Maldivian public.
All MPs were asked to give up their phones prior to the meeting with the president.
The president met with the Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed and senior police officers at the police headquarters yesterday.
The PPM and MDA parliamentary group comprises of 49 MPs. The JP holds 11 seats in the 85-member People’s Majlis.
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.
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