MALE, Maldives (AP) — The president of the Maldives appointed his trusted tourism minister as vice president on Wednesday, a day after parliament overwhelmingly voted to oust his former deputy on negligence charges.
President Yameen Abdul Gayoom swore in Ahmed Adeeb as vice president at a closed ceremony. The 33-year-old Adeeb's appointment was widely expected since lawmakers started a process to impeach Mohamed Jameel, who had been Gayoom's vice president since they were elected in 2013.
Lawmakers even voted to lower the minimum age of eligibility for president and vice president from 35 to 30 to enable Adeeb to take the position.
Jameel's impeachment was proposed by colleagues from his own government and supported by the opposition in what is widely believed to be in exchange for concessions for jailed opposition leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed.
Nasheed was jailed for 13 years in March after a disputed terrorism trial for detaining a senior judge when he was president three years ago.
The jailing threatened to lead to a protracted political crisis, but relations between the government and the Nasheed-led Maldivian Democratic Party have improved, and Nasheed has been transferred from prison to house arrest. His colleagues are negotiating with the government for a full release.
Adeeb is known as a staunch Gayoom loyalist, mobilizing young people in support of the president. He defended Gayoom amid widespread local and international criticism for jailing Nasheed.
Jameel was ousted Tuesday after 78 of 85 lawmakers voted in favor of the impeachment motion. Two lawmakers voted against the motion and one abstained, while the rest were absent.
Jameel, who is in Britain and did not answer the charges against him, said in a statement that he had been sidelined and prevented from performing his duties.
The Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago nation known for its upscale resorts, became a multiparty democracy in 2008 after 30 years of autocratic rule by Gayoom's half-brother Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.