By Daniel Bosley
The Maldives declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, as the Indian Ocean island nation’s political upheaval intensified following a suspected assassination attempt on the president.
Citing a threat to national security, the foreign ministry said on its official Twitter feed that the state of emergency would remain in force for 30 days.
Umar Naseer, minister of home affairs, confirmed to Reuters that the emergency had been declared.
The string of tropical islands, home to 400,000 people and a favourite of tourists, has been in turmoil since a Sept. 28 blast on board President Abdulla Yameen’s launch as it was about to dock at the capital Male.
Yameen was unhurt but his wife and two aides were injured in the blast, which the government quickly said was an assassination attempt.
The authorities have since uncovered stashes of weapons believed to have been hidden by Yameen’s opponents, leading the police to recommend the imposition of a state of emergency under Article 253 of the constitution.
“Further investigations showed a high probability that these people have weapons and explosives,” Ali Ihusaan, a Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) official, told a news conference.
“There is every possibility that these things will be seen again, and so we advised on this action,” he said.
“NO CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE”
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, which was invited to examine the evidence, said it found “no conclusive evidence” that a bomb had exploded on Yameen’s launch, raising doubts over the cause of the blast.
Yameen has acted quickly to crack down on those suspected of disloyalty, with Vice President Ahmed Adeeb arrested in connection with the explosion and several suspects deported to the Maldives from Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
Adeeb denies any involvement in the blast, which has ratcheted up tension in the archipelago that was already running high after the trial and imprisonment of former president Mohamed Nasheed.
Nasheed, who lost a 2013 presidential election to Yameen, was jailed for 13 years in March on charges of terrorism. The United States and human rights groups say Yameen’s government failed to follow due process and that the case against Nasheed was politically motivated.