“I am addressing the people of the Maldives, via the media, to share some information. Vice President Adeeb was arrested yesterday following his return from a trip to China. When a country’s vice president is arrested, there will be issues that need to be clarified.
With regards to the sad incident of 28 September, which has now been determined to be a targeted attack, I want to share some information on the ongoing investigation, in so far as it doesn’t effect the investigation. I will relay some of these issues in point form. I will present the issues that I want to discuss in my preferred order.
Firstly, in my administration, we decided that the ministers and police will not keep close relationships. Hence, the vice president was not authorized to keep a close relationship with the police force. When I assumed office, I decided that the police and MNDF would remain as professional institutions. The leaders of these institutions were to be responsible for the work of these institutions, and whatever has to be referred to the president would be referred to the president later.
Nevertheless, I am shocked by what has emerged during the course of this investigation. I found that the entire police force is under the vice president’s control and subject to his influence. This is not how I wish it to be. From what we can tell, this has happened because the vice president facilitated official and unofficial resources for the police, outside of the state budget. This saddens me deeply.
Second, this investigation is being carried out by the police, but they faced multiple obstructions and difficulties in carrying out this investigation. We have seen questions raised over the arrest of suspects in this investigation, on how and why they were arrested. Those in charge of the investigation informed me they were facing many challenges, this includes tampering with evidence. When police went to search certain buildings with court warrants, they were made to face obstacles. The locations to be searched were linked to the investigation or to the suspects under arrest. But when they went there, the police were made to face obstructions to their duty. Now, the Maldivian public know the people involved, and how these places are linked to the investigation. The sad thing is, why are there obstructions to the investigation? The owners of the buildings to be raided were informed prior to the raid. Faced with such obstacles, we, the investigative authorities, became sure this investigation will not be an easy one or conducted speedily. A lot of evidence, that could have been collected, has been destroyed.
I want to note, those under arrest at the moment are in custody because they had to be taken into custody. The reasons for their arrest have been stated to some extent in the media. But I will also give some details. The police believe those who boarded the boat to examine it, following the incident, did some things they shouldn’t have. This is why the police are raising questions. The soldiers in custody, they involved themselves in actions that were outside the scope of their responsibilities. Collecting forensic evidence from and conducting a thorough search and examination of the boat are responsibilities of the police. It is not the responsibility of the two MNDF officers who boarded the boat. Their only responsibility was to ensure if the boat was secure and that a second explosion would not occur. Police are raising questions over their conduct because they did more than that.
These two officers were the first individuals to be arrested. Another man who was working in their department was also arrested when he arrived in the Maldives. Police investigations are proving that those in custody have close links with the vice president’s bodyguards. As the investigation unfolds, the police are arresting and questioning such individuals.
The most challenging aspect is that they choose to remain silent on matters that concern their official duties. Soldiers and police should be accountable with regard to their official responsibilities. In matters such as these, I don’t believe that they have the right to remain silent, which is a right afforded only in civil matters. They should be able to say what they did and did not do in the discharge of their official duties. If they have nothing to hide, they should be able to say so. The biggest challenge for the investigation is their reluctance to cooperate on what they did and did not do in the discharge of their official responsibilities.
The source of funding or various favours extended to the police by the vice president needs to be investigated, the police investigation has determined. It was in the course of the investigation that the police concluded that they needed to search the offices of the Maldives Media and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC). The reason for this is that the MMPRC was the front through which various favours had been extended to the police force, according to the investigation.
As a result, the investigating officers had also, with a court order, visited the house of MMPRC’s Managing Director Mr Abdulla Ziyath. A search of Abdulla Ziyath’s apartment found several official communications from the police service requesting materials and services required for official police business. The investigating officers found this to be unusual. The investigation finds it strange that official communications from the police, under their letterhead, and required for official business should be in the home of the MMPRC MD. They should ideally be at the MMPRC Office.
When Abdulla Ziyath was summoned and questioned, he did provide some answers. However, he chose to remain silent on the matter of how much was earned by MMPRC from the sale/lease of islands and reefs and how these funds were used. Once again, I would say that the right to remain silent is not one that can be chosen by those being questioned on matters concerning their official duties and responsibilities. Abdulla Ziyath is the head of a government office or institution. Abdulla Ziyath’s silence – on the funds earned by MMPRC and how these funds were used – was seen by the investigation as an attempt to hide or cover up something.
I explained this matter to the vice president when he was in Singapore. Prior to that, I met Abdulla Ziyath at the President’s Office on his request. I did tell him to extend all possible cooperation to the police investigation. He assured me that he would. Once Ziyath failed to cooperate with the police, I raised the matter with the vice president and asked him to tell Ziyath to cooperate with the police. The vice president assured me that he would get Ziyath to cooperate with the police and answer their questions. However, Ziyath was subsequently arrested because he chose to remain silent and decided not to divulge any information to the investigation on the matter.
The main question that the investigation wanted answers for are – why had the police service requested the MMPRC for items and services required for official business? The police have their own budget to run their affairs. As a result, the investigation wanted to uncover the links between the MMPRC and police as well those links between the police and the vice p resident. Information regarding these matters have not been received to date. I have personally, on several occasions asked the vice president to provide this information and he has always assured me that he would disclose information on all funds that have been received by the MMPRC. However, I have not received this information to date. However, we have received information from the Tourism Ministry, MMPRC office, and funds received through MIRA and MMPRC accounts at Bank of Maldives. We are carefully examining these documents and will filter all relevant information and forward these to the investigation.
However, I believe a matter of this gravity, where the vice president has been detained and is being investigated requires further answers. Since the investigation commenced I have not received any cooperation from the vice president on this matter. The vice president has been distant from me. If I ask a question he answers that specific question, I have repeatedly asked the vice president to use the resources at his disposal to extend all cooperation to the investigation. He has always assured me that he would cooperate. However, I find that people working under the vice president have been refusing to cooperate with the investigation.
The thing that concerns me the most is that – as the investigation has proceeded, since every Maldivian should want to know who is responsible for this incident, the vice president included too – I have noticed that the vice president has made several attempts to distract from the investigation.
Chief amongst these is the attempt by the vice president to collaborate with the MDP and file a no confidence motion against me in parliament. In this regard, the vice president has also discussed the matter with PPM MPs in parliament. These individual members have subsequently approached me and confided in me. I can’t think of a valid reason why my own Vice President would attempt to impeach me.
All we are doing is trying to uncover the parties involved in an assassination attempt on me. Any impeachment attempt is very clearly an attempt to distract and derail me from finding those parties involved in the assassination attempt. I have ascertained that the vice president has been pursuing my impeachment in collaboration with MDP MPs. He has discussed this matter with MPs from my own parliamentary group. I can say that vice president is not working with me, and is clearly not headed in the same direction as the government and myself.
The reason the vice president had to be detained, I will tell you, with such suspicions cast on the vice president, and the obstructions faced from his associates, the vice president had to be detained, the primary reason he has been detained is that the investigation, upon inspection of properties belonging to associates of the vice president, found materials for bomb making there. These are materials that have been discovered to the investigation and now have been impounded by the police.
These are items that were found on the properties of those currently in custody. The Sri Lankan forensic experts have concluded that the explosion on the boat was caused by a bomb. This is why I am compelled to search houses, for the security of all of Malé. I am compelled to search any house on which the slightest suspicions is cast. I believe that it would be easy, that the vice president should be able to answer all the questions. And there are no questions that I would hesitate to answer for the purposes of the investigation.
Given that there are several aspects that concern the vice president, it is imperative he be held accountable to the investigation. Given that a bomb was used on the boat and also given that bomb making materials were found in the homes of those detained by the investigation, this has led me to conclude that the security of ordinary Maldivians is compromised at this time.
The investigating officers are also of this belief. As a result, we have been forced to detain the vice president and conclude this investigation. And for these same reasons, given the vice president’s involvement with the police, especially with money being exchanged both for official and private purposes, I believe that the senior leaders of the police management, especially the current police commissioner should step aside. An individual in such a senior position should not have allowed room for such influences over the police force. However he did allow this to happen, and for that reason I have decided that he is no longer capable of fulfilling his responsibilities.
The police force had to be strengthened for this reason, because of the vice president’s influence over the institution. The MNDF was in a similar state. Closer scrutiny has revealed that three of the MNDF’s most critical departments were headed by the same officer, an individual who was detained in the army barracks at the outset of the investigation. He is Fayaz. SPG or the president’s security team or department is headed by Fayaz. Because I trusted him, I had entrusted him with responsibility to look after the armory looking after weapons and ordinance of the MNDF. Furthermore, the bomb disposal unit or EOD which looks after all matters related to bombs and explosive devices was also headed by Fayaz. As luck would have it all three departments were headed by Fayaz. That is why Fayaz has been detained.
The rest of the people arrested and detained were detained at first, not because of their association with the vice president. The first two individuals who were arrested were arrested because they had gotten on the boat and done things that were outside the remit of their duties. Their link to the vice president was established much later.
The president has not received any intelligence from the police since the beginning of July this year. However, from what we know the vice president has been collecting police intelligence, officially and unofficially. However, the official intelligence reports to the president had been halted. The previous police intelligence chief has been transferred to another department. The officer who was subsequently appointed to the position has failed to provide any intelligence to the president. When I met with senior police officers, I told them that I did not believe that such an incident would occur without the knowledge of police intelligence officers. Even today I do not believe such an incident would occur without the police knowing. I cannot believe that this would escape police intelligence. When we think about all these issues, when we assess if all these are coincidences, today in hindsight the investigative team, the inquiry commission and even myself cannot believe that these are simply coincidences. These are definitely not coincidences. Due to many such reasons, the investigative team, the inquiry commission and myself came to the conclusion that, the vice president, although he still remains in that position, had to be sidelined from performing his official duties, and kept in isolation.
Next I would like to say, that my government is in one way a very eventful government. [I am addressing this] to answer questions, for the Maldivian people, questions that have been raised in the media. Without a doubt, in the past two-year period, two vice presidents have had to face very sad fates, that is a fact that must be acknowledged. Both vice presidents did not actively perform during the times the president and the government needed them most. The government did not receive any cooperation from the previous vice president when the MDP was protesting and protests by the allied opposition were held. And Dr Jameel was not dismissed from his position for what he did then, for the work he did then, based simply on an intelligence report. Even now, the measures imposed on the current Vice President Ahmed Adeeb is not based solely on an intelligence report. The state’s work will be done in a more structured manner, and especially if it is something I oversee, I will do it in a more structured way. Therefore this is not based on a written intelligence report, neither of them were removed based solely on intelligence reports. Many details of what Dr Jameel was doing at that time were provided then, and when he was provided the opportunity to present himself and answer to the parliament, he choose not to do so. Had he presented himself and answered the questions by MPs, perhaps it would have been easier for the MPs. But that was the reason he failed to get the support from MPs. Therefore, in accordance with the constitution of Maldives, if support is not received, a no confidence motion will be passed with the subsequent removal from the position. But even then the vice president had the opportunity to get support or work towards acquitting himself from the accusations.
It is likely that one may believe that most members of PPM will follow President Yameen’s instructions. Even so, by his refusal to attend, the people of this entire country were deprived of the opportunity to witness the questions posed to the vice president and his answers [sic]. I do not want to answer the question whether the previous vice president wanted the presidency. All I know is when the government and the president wanted his help the most, none was received from him. Similarly, the current vice president did not cooperate in the days the president faced the most challenges. The vice president has remained very aloof in the past few days. I have just revealed some allegations that have been levelled against the current vice president.
In addition, I have to note that two defence ministers have been dismissed from their positions. There is no room to believe that their removal was a political punishment. This is something that I would like to highlight in order to answer some questions posed in the media by some individuals. The pistol and explosives found at the former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim’s house were present at his house. He must prove in a trial that those items are not his and that he has no knowledge of how they got there. But when such items are found in a raid by the police, there is no choice, nothing that the president can do. The person in the position of the president will have to investigate the case and let the case proceed in the courts. That is the legal process. I do not have the choice to hold such major cases when I want to, and to send other cases to the court, it is not a choice I have. Therefore I left the matter to the courts, because it is not an ordinary issue. What happened with then Defence Minister was not politically motivated. Minister Nazim was not removed from his post because the case was at court. He was not dismissed in relation to the case. Today, I will share this with the Maldivian people.
Nazim’s actions were not in line with actions of a minister whom the president had confidence in. One morning, after the event, as I remember, it was on the third day, I myself went to question the police team involved in the raid on the complaints by Nazim. The team comprised of SWAT, forensic and legal personnel. As I remember a team of not less than around 15 personnel raided Nazim’s home. The defence minister told me that he was mistreated, that he was treated in a physically hurtful manner, that he was treated with disrespect. Therefore I wanted to know and guarantee for sure, why the police had treated my defence minister this way while he still held the post, even after they realized that he is the defence minister. I questioned them. I asked all the questions I wished to ask and got all the information I wanted. According to the information I received, Nazim was treated with kindness from the point they realized it is Nazim. In no way did they do anything that would scare Nazim. While I was doing all this, meeting with the police, I will tell you today, the actions of my defence minister –
My defence minister was meetimg all senior military personnel at the same time. He met them and attempted to rile them up by expressing what he felt and thought regarding this case. And then asked them to go and confront the president on this issue. This is the point at which I lost confidence in the minister. The minister does not have to send senior military personnel to confront me. I thought I would let Nazim stay in his position until the conclusion of his trial, but when he asked them to confront me even when I was treating him so well, that is the point I lost confidence in Nazim. That is the reason why Nazim was dismissed. Not at all because of the pistol that was found in his home, but all this happened following the discovery of the pistol and explosives. Therefore when Nazim gave counsel and advised top military personnel to confront me, I then decided I had no confidence in the minister, Nazim anymore. Nazim will know this, but because of the respect I have for these individuals, I do not talk about such things. But I thought I would reveal the truth behind these things to the Maldivian people, because when I do not speak of such things, all sorts of stories crop up.
The most recent defence minister that was dismissed – no doubt, defence ministers should be very trusted people by the President. The reason why the most recent defence minister was dismissed is – during the investigation of this incident, military personnel were perceived with doubt. The most senior military officers arrested is Fayaz. He is a military colonel. He is also a cousin of the defence minister. How this was done was – from long time ago, fireworks are always imported by the military. However, the defence minister changed that, without consulting the president or senior military personnel. He changed a norm that was strongly followed [for a long time] on his own, authorizing MMPRC to import fireworks. When the permission was granted, and when he was questioned by senior military personnel, he said permission was granted by him, in his capacity as the defence minister. The media has also reported the news of this shipment of fireworks. Questions arise on this fireworks shipment, how it was cleared, how it was searched, and the extent of this search. No one would disagree that fireworks shipment and gunpowder in it can be used to make explosives. It is difficult to ascertain what else was brought with the fireworks shipment. This shipment was cleared [by customs] in a rush. Therefore, after discussion with the chief, vice chief (of MNDF) and myself, we came to a conclusion that it will be very difficult to investigate Fayaz if Moosa Ali Jaleel remained as the defence minister. There has definitely been no wrongdoing by Moosa Ali Jaleel. We do not yet believe Moosa Ali Jaleel is involved to any extent in the boat blast. However, because of what has happened, and because one of the top suspects is his cousin, it will not be easy to conduct the investigation with Moosa Ali Jaleel as the minister. Moosa Ali Jaleel is one of the two ministers in the inquiry commission. At that point I decided to dismiss him. It is not in any case because of an alleged offence against him. However, the manner in which this fireworks shipment was brought in was very wrong. It is gunpowder. I do not believe it [the shipment] was thoroughly searched to find out what else was in that shipment. MNDF doesn’t believe so either today. For these reasons the Defence Minister has been dismissed.
A total of eight people have left my government. This includes two vice presidents, although the current vice president is not dismissed, he has been sidelined, two defence ministers, and four ministers have been dismissed, of these only two ministers resigned. Most recently, Mohamed Hussain Shareef [Minister at President’s Office] resigned. Mohamed Hussain Shareef resigned when he was asked to not report to work for a few days. This was not because of any links to the ongoing investigation. Absolutely no link. However he was asked to not report for another reason. Not because there is any doubt over Mohamed Hussain Shareef ‘s [involvement] in the boat blast.
The other minister who resigned was [President’s Office Minister], Ameen. Ameen also joined this government together with three people, they are vice President Jameel, Youth Minister Maleeh and President’s Office minister Ameen. It was difficult for Ameen to continue to work when Jameel was removed and Maleeh was dismissed. It was not because he was displeased with the president or the government. That was his personal decision.
The other minister is former Health Minister, Dr. Shakeela. For Dr. Shakeela, the parliament did not have confidence in her. It was not a political move by the president. What I am trying to say is eight individuals, for various reasons, have been removed or dismissed.
The only minister dismissed was Maleeh. That was because, Maleeh got too involved and intervened in a separate inquiry carried out by the government. Ameen was assigned to investigate it. After I received the report, I decided that Maleeh in his capacity as a minister cannot do that. Therefore [I] was compelled to dismiss Maleeh from the post. It was during the time [I] received information of the Vice President [Jameel] colluding with the opposition to carry out certain tasks. What I am trying to say is be it political or not, eight people have left the government.
The next is what’s been said in the news papers or questions raised by those who have left the government – whether [I am] eliminating everyone who will challenge me in 2018?
President Yameen has not yet even decided to run in 2018.
Secondly, there is nothing President Yameen had done to eliminate any of these people. There is nothing Yameen had done to eliminate any of the contenders. Whatever has happened was because of their actions or through a decision by the Maldivian judiciary. Therefore these are not President Yameen’s political moves.
There is a judicial ruling against President Nasheed. He may be a contender against President Yameen. However the sentence against President Nasheed is not because he was going to challenge President Yameen. President Nasheed’s case was not filed under this government. It was lodged under the previous government, Dr. Waheed’s government.
Repeatedly, President Nasheed had appealed to the President’s Office to expedite his case. There is a reason for this. Once the case is concluded, a certain time period needs to pass, or once the sentence had been served there had to be a certain time period, in order for President Nasheed to be eligible to contest for the 2018 election. For this reason, he was calling for this case to be expedited. Because I understand this and because, politically, I want to give him the opportunity to contest in 2018, I answered his repeated appeals. I told the courts that President Nasheed has requested that case be concluded as soon as possible. Whatever the courts did, it was to expedite the trial, on President Nasheed’s appeal. There was no say of the government. Please believe, all witness statements had been taken during Dr. Waheed’s government. After so much time, only for the purpose of review were the statements even discussed at court. But courts had already taken the statements. Therefore I do not believe there is any room to say it was a rushed trial. I do not think there were any new statements. President Nasheed himself requested to expedite the case. I just explained the reason why he wanted it. As per current laws, he can only contest if the trial is completed quickly, and having served a part of his sentence, a specific period of time needs to have lapsed between the serving of the sentence and the 2018 election. Therefore he wanted to seek opportunity for that. Because he wants to challenge me in 2018, I also wanted to give him that opportunity. Therefore this is not something I have done.
The other thing is dismissal of the defence ministers. I do not have anything to say about what was recovered from Nazim’s house. He must prove that in court. It has nothing to do with me. But in my capacity as the president, I will not give any advise on how to judge the case. I will not order an out of court settlement. It has to go to the Prosecutor General after investigation. If the Prosecutor General decides to submit to the court, he will do so. The court will decide on it. Nazim must prove his innocence in court. It has nothing to do with President Yameen’s wishes.
And today’s issue, the vice president [Jameel] that also has nothing to do with President Yameen. However, I will not say there is nothing political about it. The vice president did not support the government. There are reasons behind it. However, I did not want to say anything shameful about him. I still do not want to. What we must believe is that he did get the opportunity to prove his innocence under the Constitution. He gave up that opportunity. [He] did not want to answer questions put forward by Members of the Parliament. Even if it was political vote, had he faced those questions in the parliament, people of the Maldives will know whether he is guilty or not. That is because, we will know the questions and answers. We would all see it. But he deprived himself of that opportunity on his own. It is not something I did. But if things happen, no confidence motions will be lodged. I have, in detail, explained why the current vice president had to be isolated. I am compelled to do this for the safety and security of entire Male’ and all Maldivians. This is not a box cutter [knife] attack, this is a bomb explosion. When some houses were raided for the investigation, materials used to make bombs were found in their houses. Therefore I am compelled to isolate him and conduct the investigation. But I am still not accusing [him] of a crime. However, because the investigation team believes there are allegations and because it will be difficult to conduct the investigation while he remains in his position and continues to report to office. This is because of his widespread influence within the police.
Then, there are cases of the leaders of other political parties. I did not arrest them. Their cases are going through the judiciary. They must prove their innocence through the judiciary.
Therefore I am not arresting and jailing my political opponents.
But with all that has happened, there are certain truths that must be accepted. The truth is, despite President Yameen wanting powers to be dispersed with an economic committee, a social committee [inside the cabinet] as two departments to be administered separately by the president and the vice president, and because one individual has been given a lot of power, the issues that have come out could arise again. Adeeb became a very powerful minister trusted by the President. There were many resources for him to accumulate a lot of money. Under the Special Economic Zone Act, Vice President Adeeb was the chair of the committee. He is also the co-chair of the economic council., later the chair. Adeeb’s role was crucial in any economic decisions and interactions with foreign parties. I also note his services. He had a lot of power and a lot of trust. Therefore, there is room for such things.
Because of these things the president is now compelled to, I believe, it is time for the president to personally oversee everything.
From today onwards, the chair of the SEZ committee will not be Ahmed Adeeb, he has been dismissed. Ahmed Adeeb will not be the co-chair of the economic committee, he has been dismissed. I will appoint members to those two positions. I will directly administer both these committees. The president will from now on chair the economic committee. The president will oversee social committee too from now on.
Today I have come to strongly believe the president must oversee all these things as it was long ago. This is because of the actions of my two vice presidents.
With all these things, I want to assure the Maldivian people the president will closely oversee everything. God willing there is no obstacle to attract investments. Our two big projects are the airport and the bridge. Finance has been arranged for both these projects. Other projects, including iHaven all are underway.
God willing, the absence of a specific individual will not undermine this.
I also want to say that the needs of youth will also be fulfilled just like before. Even then, everything was officially overseen by the youth minister. However vice president Adeeb [then tourism minister] was involved in organizing funds and resources for youth groups. We must make an arrangement for this. There will be no difficulty in continuing the work through official channels, through government budget.
Before I conclude I want to say, the president is compelled to think differently within the government. The president must now personally oversee every sector within the government. The president must now be actively involved. God willing, I will continue to do this to the best of my ability. I work with my cabinet not thinking an individual’s absence or presence will affect my work. God willing our cabinet and presidency has that capacity. We will continue the work.
I am saddened that one of us who worked with us now has to stay far away from us. However this is not an irreversible loss.”