November 5, 2015 / 8:49 AM / 2 years ago

Maldives impeaches vice president as emergency law deepens crackdown

Abdulla Yameen takes his oath as the President of Maldives during a swearing-in ceremony at the parliament in Male November 17, 2013. REUTERS/Waheed Mohamed

MALE (Reuters) - Parliament in the Maldives impeached the vice president on Thursday over his alleged role in an explosion on the president’s speedboat, a day after the government declared a state of emergency that was internationally condemned.

The decree has deepened turmoil engulfing the Indian Ocean archipelago following the blast on President Abdulla Yameen’s boat, which the government said was an assassination attempt.

Ahmed Adeeb, who was detained in connection with the Sept. 28 explosion, was impeached after 61 members of the 85-member parliament voted in favor. The opposition abstained from the vote, calling it unconstitutional and politically motivated.

Home Minister Umar Naseer said Adeeb would be removed from office and Yameen can appoint a replacement.

The move came as security was tightened in the capital Male, with troops patrolling the streets.

The United States, rights groups and the Commonwealth of mostly former British colonies have called on the Maldives to lift its state of emergency and end a crackdown on dissidents.

Yameen declared the state of emergency two days before a planned protest by the opposition, citing threats to national security after officials said an explosive device was discovered near his residence in Male, as well as stashes of weapons.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, asked to examine the scene of the boat blast, said there was “no conclusive evidence” that a bomb had exploded, raising doubts over its cause.

The U.S. State Department said in a statement issued late on Wednesday it was deeply concerned by the state of emergency.

“The United States calls on the government of Maldives to restore immediately full constitutional freedoms to its citizens by terminating the state of emergency, and reiterates its call for an end to politically motivated prosecutions and detentions,” it said.

The United States also reiterated its call for the release of ex-president Mohamed Nasheed, who was imprisoned in March on terrorism charges after a widely criticized trial.

Rights group Amnesty International said the government should not use the order to silence free speech or infringe on other human rights.

Adeeb, 33, is the second vice president to be impeached in four months after Yameen removed his predecessor from office in July.

Reporting by Dan Bosley in Male and Ranga Sirilal in Colombo; Writing by Shihar Aneez and Tommy Wilkes; Editing by Nick Macfie and Dominic Evans

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