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Maldives President in Control Despite Crisis

  • Reuters

FILE - Maldives Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon addresses the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, Oct. 3, 2015.

FILE - Maldives Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon addresses the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, Oct. 3, 2015.

Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen is in control of the government and enjoys broad support from his party and allies, the country's foreign minister said on Tuesday, following rumors that dissidents were trying to unseat the government.

Yameen rose to power in a bitterly contested presidential election in 2013 and launched a crackdown on dissent, leading to further upheaval and protests on the Indian Ocean archipelago of 400,000, best known for its tourist resorts.

The crisis has escalated after Yameen 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 of Maldives and talk of unseating the government.

But she said the president enjoyed strong support in parliament from his party and coalition partners to 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 in the investigation.

The latest crisis adds to a growing number of problems facing the island chain that relies heavily on tourism for income and employment.

The leader Yameen defeated, 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.

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 youth from joining militant groups.

In the case of Nasheed, she said it 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. "Maldives would like to deal ourselves with our problems."

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