After bomb report, Maldives president vows to ensure safety

AP News
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Posted: Nov 03, 2015 6:50 AM
After bomb report, Maldives president vows to ensure safety

MALE, Maldives (AP) — The president of the Maldives said Tuesday he would take all steps to ensure the safety of his people, a day after an explosive device was found near his official residence.

In his speech to the nation President Yameen Abdul Gayoom said an explosion last month on his speedboat was "an act of greed to attain power," an apparent reference to his vice president, who is being held for questioning over the alleged assassination attempt.

The FBI, which investigated at the Maldives' request, said on Saturday it found no evidence a bomb had caused the boat explosion. The government said Gayoom was not sitting in his usual seat on the boat and thus was not hurt by the blast, which injured his wife, an aide and a bodyguard.

Vice President Ahmed Adeeb was among nine people arrested on suspicion of involvement in the boat explosion. The Maldives Constitution provides for the vice president to assume power if the president dies or incapacitated.

Gayoom was speaking on the 27th anniversary of a coup attempt to unseat his half-brother with the help of mercenaries from neighboring Sri Lanka. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled Maldives from 1978 to until losing in the country's first democratic election in 2008, survived the attempt.

The president said that a lesson learned from the coup attempt was that there were people within and abroad who desire to destroy the peace of the Maldives and the "dangerous attack of the presidential speedboat ... was one such act of greed to attain power."

The government said the device found in a parked vehicle at his official residence Monday was deactivated by the military. Home Minister Umar Naseer said the bomb had been made with a dynamite stick and was connected to a remote control device.

Naseer said he suspected Gayoom was being targeted again "by the same people" who failed to succeed in the boat explosion. He did not say who they were.

Gayoom does not live at the official residence but uses it frequently for meetings.

Military cordoned off and evacuated people near the residence and arrested three journalists from a pro-opposition television station for entering the cordoned area.

Maldives is an Indian Ocean archipelago with 350,000 people, mostly Sunni Muslim, and is known for its beaches and luxury resorts. It has had a difficult transition to democracy since holding its first multiparty election in 2008, with the first democratically elected leader being jailed for 13 years under the country's terrorism law. The trial was criticized both locally and internationally for an apparent lack of due process.