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MALE (Reuters) - President Abdulla Yameen of the Maldives said on Sunday his former deputy Ahmed Adheeb had plotted to impeach him, a day after Adheeb was arrested at the airport in connection with an attempt on Yameen's life last month.
Yameen was unhurt in the Sept. 28 blast as his presidential boat Finifenmaa approached the capital Male while he was returning from Saudi Arabia after the haj pilgrimage, but his wife and two aides were injured.
Adheeb was detained on Saturday upon his arrival at Male's airport from China. His arrest comes after defense minister Moosa Ali Jaleel was sacked by Yameen on Oct. 14, amid a security shake up after the explosion.
The government initially said the blast may gave been caused by a mechanical failure but this was ruled out under an investigation involving the United States, Saudi Arabia, Australia, and Sri Lanka.
Yameen's rule has come under criticism at home and abroad. Under him, authorities arrested the Maldives' first democratically elected president, Mohamed Nasheed. Despite an international outcry, Nasheed was put on a fast-tracked trial.
Police said 17 of Adheeb's supporters were arrested on Saturday for "public order offences".
A lawyer for Adheeb has denied Yameen's allegation.
In a televised address, Yameen said Adheeb had distracted the investigation into the boat blast and that his "isolation" was necessary for it to continue.
"We saw a lot of things from the vice president that could distract the investigation. The most serious of that was working together with the MDP (opposition) politically to take a no-confidence vote against the president in the parliament".
Yameen also said the boat blast incident could not have happened without the knowledge of police.
Adheeb's lawyer Hussein Shameem said the allegations against his client were untrue.
"They haven't showed any evidence. They only have an intelligence report with very little substance. He was threatened by senior government officials and senior security officials before his return."
A broader crackdown against political dissent in the Maldives belies the popular image of the island chain of a holiday paradise.
Writing by Shihar Aneez