Maldives minister dismisses rumors of dissent in government

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 27, 2015 8:24 AM

By Paritosh Bansal and Douglas Busvine

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The Maldivian foreign minister dismissed rumors on Tuesday that dissident politicians were trying to unseat the government and said President Abdulla Yameen was in control and enjoyed broad support from his party and allies.

Yameen rose to power in a bitterly contested presidential election in 2013 and cracked down on opposition activists, leading to further street protests on the Indian Ocean archipelago of 400,000, best known for its tourist resorts.

The president escaped an assassination attempt late last month. He has since fired his defense minister and, on Saturday, Vice President Ahmed Adheeb was arrested as part of the investigation into the blast.

In a telephone interview from the capital, Male, the minister for foreign affairs, Dunya Maumoon, said they had heard speculation about dissent within Yameen's Progressive Party (PPM) of Maldives and talk of unseating the government.

But she said the president enjoyed strong support in parliament from his party and coalition partners that would block any such move.

"The president is well in control, and the government and party stand fully behind him," Maumoon said.

She said the party had also suspended Adheeb's membership after his arrest.

Two lawmakers told Reuters that Yameen's PPM-led coalition on Tuesday filed an impeachment motion signed by 52 of parliament's 85 members to oust Adheeb. The coalition needs a two-thirds majority or at least 57 votes to do that.

The country faces many problems that are affecting the tourism industry that it relies on for revenue and employment.

Yameen's predecessor, Mohamed Nasheed, was jailed this year for terrorism in a case that has caused an international outcry. Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has called for sanctions against the Maldives after visiting Nasheed in prison.

Radicalized youths are enlisting in significant numbers to fight for Islamic State militants in the Middle East.

Maumoon said the island remained safe for tourists and the government was taking steps, such as increasing employment, to keep young people from joining militant groups.

She said the case against Nasheed was not politically motivated and the judicial process should be allowed to take its course.

"We request the rest of the world to respect our institutions," she said in the interview. "Maldives would like to deal ourselves with our problems."

(Additional reporting by Daniel Bosley in Male; Editing by Louise Ireland)