The September 28 “bomb attack”on the presidential speedboat was motivated by “greed for power,” President Abdulla Yameen said today in an address to the nation on the occasion of ‘Victory Day.’
In a written statement to commemorate a failed coup in 1988, Yameen appealed to the public to put national interest first and to be “wary of plots” to topple the government.
#HEPVictoryDayMessage: I appeal to all the Maldivian citizens to bring forward patriotism & to be aware of traitorous plotters.
— Ibrahim Muaz Ali (@SpokespersonMV) November 3, 2015
His deputy, Ahmed Adeeb, is being held on suspicion of links to the explosion on the speedboat. Yameen escaped unhurt. Despite contradictory findings by foreign experts, the government insists the blast was caused by a bomb targeting the president.
“It has now been made certain that the dangerous act of exploding [a bomb] on the Finfenma launch on September 28, too, was an attack [motivated by] greed for power,” Yameen said.
The most important lesson from the failed coup attempt of November 3, 1988 is the existence of people within and outside the country who are intent on disrupting the Maldives’ peace and security “openly and in secret”.
Numerous incidents in Maldivian history have shown that “such people would not hesitate to instill fear in the hearts of many” and resort to violence, Yameen said.
The Victory Day public holiday is celebrated annually on November 3 to commemorate the failed armed coup by Tamil mercenaries led by a group of Maldivians. The attempt to overthrow the then-ten year regime of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was foiled by a combined effort of the Maldivian military and paratroopers deployed by India.
Some 19 Maldivians, including 11 soldiers, died after the mercenaries attacked the capital.
Yameen praised the sacrifice of the soldiers as well as “the wise and patient efforts” of his half-brother Gayoom to “protect the independence and sovereignty of the nation”.
The mercenaries were led by Ahmed ‘Sagaru’ Nasir and Abdulla Luthfy. Nasir was released from prison in August 2014 after serving a 25-year prison sentence. Luthfy fled the country in 2009 after being authorised to seek medical treatment in India and remains a wanted fugitive.
Yameen meanwhile went on to express concern over the discovery of firearms and bomb-making materials in raids carried out by the police and military in its investigation of the alleged assassination attempt.
The police and military are working together to determine when and how the weapons were smuggled into the Maldives and to identify those responsible, he added.
“At this critical juncture when there is fear in the hearts of citizens, I assure the Maldivian people that the government will be taking all the necessary measures for the safety and security of the public,” he said.
He also assured that the culprits will be found after a thorough investigation and brought to justice.
The weapons cache discovered on Friday, submerged in the lagoon of an uninhabited island leased for resort development, was unprecedented in the Maldives.
Two days after the security forces announced the discovery, the military’s bomb disposal unit last night defused an improvised explosive device found near the presidential palace.
Citing the findings of Sri Lankan and Saudi Arabian forensic experts, the government says the explosion on the “Finifenma” speedboat was caused by a bomb targeting the president. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said it had found no evidence of a bomb, but Home Minister Umar Naseer insisted the FBI had not ruled out the presence of an explosive device.
The arrest of Vice President Ahmed Adeeb on suspicion of links to the blast has meanwhile plunged the Maldives into fresh political crisis. The defence minister, police chief, and various officials have been sacked in an apparent purge of the vice president’s supporters from the government.