The police have announced that the Republic Square area will be closed tomorrow morning for security reasons when Vice President Ahmed Adeeb arrives in Malé.
Supporters of the vice president were planning to gather near the official jetty at the restricted “green zone” to greet Adeeb amidst rumours of his imminent arrest over an alleged attempt to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen.
At a midnight press conference, Assistant Commissioner of Police Abdulla Nawaz said the police have cordoned off the green zone based on intelligence information that suggested Adeeb’s life could be in danger.
Asked if the police were investigating plans to attack the vice president, Nawaz said security is being tightened in light of the blast on the president’s speedboat.
“I’m not saying at all that anyone is trying to attack the vice president,” he said, adding that the police are taking pre-emptive measures over the “possibility” of a similar incident.
Nawaz said journalists will not be allowed near the jetty either.
Adeeb’s supporters launched a social media campaign today urging the public to gather at the Izzuddin jetty to greet the vice president.
A pickup that drove around the capital tonight inviting the public to greet the vice president tomorrow was reportedly stopped by police officers around 10:30pm. The police said the pickup drivers did not have permission to use loudspeakers.
The vice president and his associates have become the main suspects over the blast on President Yameen’s speedboat on September 28. Home Minister Umar Naseer has said that a bomb targeting Yameen caused the explosion on the boat.
In a shake up of the police force earlier tonight, the president sacked police chief Hussain Waheed and offered him the post of state minister for housing. Waheed is also currently in Singapore. Two deputy police commissioners have also been transferred to the ministry of housing and ministry of law and gender, respectively, as deputy ministers.
Assistant Commissioner Ahmed Areef was promoted to deputy commissioner and made acting police chief. Areef was the head of the police intelligence department.
Abdulla Ziyath, a close associate of the vice president and managing director of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), was meanwhile arrested around 7:00pm night.
Adeeb had delayed his arrival in Malé after concluding an official visit to China in the wake of police raids on the homes of his close associates. He went to Singapore from Beijing.
The vice president’s bodyguard is also being detained at the military barracks.
In the first direct move against Adeeb, the police seized footage from security cameras at the entrances to two of his residence on Wednesday.
Ziyath’s arrest meanwhile came a week after police raided his home and shut down the MMPRC offices. He was summoned for questioning at the police headquarters three times last week.
The police are investigating the MMPRC’s alleged illegal import of fireworks.
The police also raided the home of an influential businessman related to Adeeb. The search and seizure warrant authorising the raid on the home of Hamid Ismail was issued in connection to the blast on the “Finifenma” speedboat.
Three soldiers have been arrested in the ongoing investigation and the former head of the special military unit tasked with providing security to the president, Colonel Ahmed ‘Papa’ Fayaz, has been stripped of his position and placed under administrative detention.
Defence Minister Moosa Ali Jaleel was also sacked two weeks after the blast on the president’s speedboat.
Mohamed Hussain Shareef ‘Mundhu,’ presidential affairs minister, meanwhile resigned last week after being told to stay home in an apparent purge of the vice president’s supporters from the government.