Vice President Ahmed Adeeb left for Beijing today to inaugurate an investment forum. His departure comes amidst heightened tension in Malé in the wake of an apparent assassination attempt on President Abdulla Yameen.
Mohamed Hussein Shareef, the presidential affairs minister, accompanied Adeeb. Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon saw the pair off.
The Maldives Independent was unable to clarify if Yameen will deliver a keynote speech at the forum as scheduled. The investment forum, announced last year, will take place from October 15- 19 at the Ruffles Hotel in Beijing.
Adeeb is also expected to attend a conference hosted by the Chinese Party on establishing a maritime and overland Silk Road, a modern version of the ancient trade route.
A media official at the economic development ministry said the list of Maldivian delegates is still subject to change. Mohamed Saeed, the economic development minister, is scheduled to attend the forum, too.
Adeeb appeared on TV last night to reiterate his unwavering loyalty to Yameen, and denounced speculation of his involvement in the explosion on the presidential speedboat on September 28.
Yameen escaped unhurt, but the First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim is still receiving treatment for injuries and remains hospitalised.
Adeeb had not been present on the speedboat when the blast occurred. He later said he had taken ill on the night before Yameen’s return from Saudi Arabia.
Two of his bodyguards have been suspended, and three soldiers have been arrested in connection to the explosion.
In his appearance on DhiTV last night, Adeeb complained that he is made the scapegoat in every major incident in the Maldives.
“Today, I am like a chicken up for slaughter? Why? Because I am young and I do not have family connections,” he said, adding that loyalty to Yameen and hard work were the cause of his meteoric rise to power.
He went on to dismiss rumours of his involvement as conspiracy theories spread by a “weak” and “threatened” opposition.
“I do not want to leave President Yameen and aspire to a higher position. I do not aspire to a higher post than this. Even if I were the tourism minister, even today, I would be very happy,” he said.
Adeeb, who had handled the tourism portfolio since 2012, was appointed as vice president in July, days after his predecessor Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed was impeached.
Calling for a speedy and independent investigation, Adeeb said he does not want Maldives to become a second Afghanistan.
In an apparent hit at the Home Minister Umar Naseer, a long-time rival who is heading the boat blast investigation, Adeeb said the probe must be conducted without “political bias, with critical thought and without politicisation.”
Adeeb had also held a press conference last week to declare his loyalty to Yameen.
The pair reportedly held a one and half hour meeting yesterday, where Yameen urged Adeeb to defend himself against rumours via the media, sources have said.
The president has also met with MPs of the ruling coalition and its former partner Jumhooree Party as well as the Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed and senior ranking police officers.
Armed soldiers have also been deployed to the streets of Malé.
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.