April 7 Police in the Indian Ocean island nation
of the Maldives arrested an opposition leader for "plotting to
overthrow the government", police said on Friday, days after the
opposition's failed bid to oust the speaker and take control of
The arrest of Qasim Ibrahim, the leader of Jumhooree Party,
comes ahead of another impeachment vote against the deputy
speaker scheduled for Monday.
The impeachment motion against Speaker Abdulla Maseeh
Mohamed, a close ally of President Abdulla Yameen, was defeated
by 48 votes to none in parliament after all opposition lawmakers
walked out in protest at their colleagues' expulsion from the
chamber for unruly behaviour.
The largely Muslim island chain with a population of 400,000
and a reputation as a tourist paradise has been mired in
political unrest for years. Significant numbers of radicalised
Maldives youths have also enlisted to fight for Islamic State
militants in the Middle East.
Police in their charge sheet said Qasim was arrested for his
alleged role of bribing and "undue influencing of parliament
members and state security forces" in the impeachment vote
against the speaker.
Police also said his arrest was due to his attempt of
"unlawful incitement to the removal, from office, of the
Hussein Shameem, Qasim's lawyer, said his client was an
opposition whip and by law he can try to convince members at a
"He has not used undue influence and no unlawful activities
were done. He acted within the law," Shameem told Reuters.
Qasim, a tourism tycoon and a 2013 presidential candidate,
backed Yameen in the second round of the poll against former
president Mohamed Nasheed. Yameen won by a slim margin.
Later he and Yameen fell apart and he formed an opposition
coalition along with former presidents Nasheed and Maumoon Abdul
Gayoom, a half brother of Yameen.
The Maldives has suffered from unrest since Nasheed, its
first democratically elected leader, was ousted in disputed
circumstances in 2012. He was later sentenced to 13 years in
jail on terrorism charges after a widely denounced trial and now
lives in exile.
Most of Yameen's opponents who might challenge him in a 2018
election have been arrested for alleged security offences. The
opposition alleges his administration is trying to cover up
corruption including money laundering.
The government denies this and says it does not influence
(Reporting by Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Nick