MALE, Maldives (AP) — Maldives’ Parliament voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to impeach the country’s vice president, who will be charged with terrorism for plotting to kill the president, a minister said.
Ahmed Adeeb is the second vice president to be impeached in three months. He has been arrested for allegedly planning to kill President Yameen Abdul Gayoom in an explosion on his speedboat on Sept. 28. Adeeb has denied involvement in the blast.
The impeachment motion received 61 votes in favor and none opposed in the 85-member Parliament. The main opposition group, the Maldivian Democratic Party, abstained.
“We have passed the impeachment with an overwhelming majority. We thought 57 votes would do the job but we got 61,” Home Minister Umar Naseer told The Associated Press.
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“Now the vice president is out of office and we will charge him under the recent terrorism law,” Naseer said.
The government recently passed a tough terrorism law aiming to deal with Maldivians sympathizing with the Islamic State group. If found guilty, Adeeb could face up to 25 years in jail.
The president, who was not hurt in the blast, has declared a state of emergency, saying the explosion and subsequent discovery of arms posed a threat to national security.
A clause of the emergency regulation reduces the number of days given to a president or vice president to respond to an impeachment motion from 14 days down to seven days.
The military said Monday that it found a homemade bomb in a vehicle parked near the president’s official residence and deactivated it. Days earlier it said an arms cache was found on an island being developed as a tourist resort.
Adeeb’s lawyer Hussain Shameem said Thursday’s vote was unconstitutional and his legal team plans to appeal to the Supreme Court seeking a review off the impeachment process.
He said the number of days to respond to an impeachment motion can’t be changed even by an emergency declaration and it needs a constitutional amendment with a two-third of votes in Parliament.
He said Adeeb was not informed of the changes and was preparing to answer charges in 14 days. He was not brought to Parliament to face charges before the vote, Shameem said.
Adeeb, 33, who was once Gayoom’s trusted protege, became vice president in July after the impeachment of his predecessor, Mohamed Jameel, who had fallen out of the president’s favor.
Lawmakers from Gayoom’s party even changed the constitution to reduce the minimum age for presidents and vice presidents from 35 to 30 to enable Adeeb to take office.
However, suspicion immediately fell on Adeeb after the explosion on Gayoom’s boat, and he was arrested at the airport as he returned from an official visit to China.
The government has called the explosion an assassination attempt. The U.S. FBI, which investigated the explosion at the government’s request, said it found no evidence that it was caused by a bomb.
Maldives, better known for its beaches and luxury island resorts, has had a difficult transition to democracy since holding its first multiparty election in 2008.
Associated Press writer Krishan Francis contributed to this report from Colombo, Sri Lanka.