The police chief and the majority leader of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) abruptly left the Maldives last night, in a sign of an escalating struggle for influence at the country’s top leadership.
Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed is on medical leave and is now in Singapore, according to a police spokesman. It is not known when Waheed plans to return.
Hassan Habeeb, the deputy commissioner of police, is now temporarily in charge of the police force.
Majority leader Ahmed Nihan announced last night on Twitter that he is departing for Colombo for two days.
traveling to Colombo, Sri Lanka from Vip Lounge Ibrahim Nasir International Airport https://t.co/O29A04tZMH
— Ahmed Nihan (@ahmed_nihan) October 20, 2015
“My regards to everyone,” Nihan said in a tweet, ostensibly before his flight took off.
Their sudden departure in the midst of an inquiry into an alleged assassination attempt on President Abdulla Yameen has fuelled speculation that the president is purging Vice President Ahmed Adeeb’s supporters from the government.
Meanwhile, multiple credible sources have told The Maldives Independent that the Auditor General Hassan Ziyath left the Maldives on Saturday and is currently in China. Adeeb is also in Beijing on official business
Ziyath is the brother of Abdulla Ziyath, the managing director of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), a main target of the inquiry into the blast. Both are close associates of Adeeb.
A spokesperson at the Auditor General’s office declined to comment on Ziyath’s whereabouts.
The Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin is also out of town. It is not clear when he is due back.
Defence Minister Moosa Ali Jaleel has been sacked, while the head of the military unit tasked with providing security to the president, Colonel Ahmed ‘Papa’ Fayaz, has been stripped of his position and placed under administrative detention.
Adeeb’s bodyguard Ahmed Amir is also under administrative detention at the military barracks.
A number of junior staff who are seen to back Adeeb have also been dismissed. The latest is Ali Shahid ‘Steps Ayya’, a coordinator at the youth ministry.
Adeeb has vowed to return to the Maldives, but the date of his arrival is not clear. Ministers who accompanied him to Beijing for the government’s investment forum are due to return today.
Five individuals are under arrest over the blast, Home Minister Umar Naseer has said. He declined to give details, but The Maldives Independent understands that three of them are soldiers.
Naseer, speaking to the press for the first time, said a team of forensic experts who investigated the incident have confirmed that the blast was caused by an explosive device. It was aimed to kill or cripple the president, he said.
Ministers and MPs have launched a media offensive, with synchronized appearances on some six TV stations at night, pledging to defend Yameen’s government.