The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has concluded that the boat explosion targeting the Maldives’ sitting President was not caused by a bomb. The explosion had been reported by Maldivian authorities to have been an assassination attempt on the President and had been used to crack down on political dissent in the country.
The FBI said on Saturday that their investigations into the September 28 explosion of the boat of President Yameen Abdul Gayoom did not find evidence of any explosive device. The bureau, which had been requested by the Maldivian government to assist in investigations, said in a statement, “Based on the FBI’s analysis which included forensic analysis of the scene, analysis of the items recovered from the scene, and chemical testing there is no conclusive evidence to attribute the explosion on the boat to an IED.”
The findings call to question assassination allegations leveled on the country’s Vice President Ahmed Adeeb.
The boat explosion occurred on September 28 when Gayoom was returning to the capital from the airport, which was on a separate island. Gayoom escaped the explosion unhurt but his wife and child were injured. Authorities later termed the incident an assassination attempt, arresting Adeeb and three soldiers before charging them with treason.
Adeeb’s arrest was immediately followed by widespread protests in the south Asian nation that has been mired by political tensions since the country’s first democratic elections in 2008 did away with the 30-year autocracy of Gayoon’s half-brother Maumoon Abdul. The elected President Mohamed Nasheed, however, did not stay in power too long. He was overthrown by a police mutiny on February 2012 over his ordering of the arrest of a chief judge. Gayoon took power in November 2013.
The UN termed Nasheed’s trial seriously flawed while the U.S. and India decried his sentencing to 13 years in jail.
After Adeeb’s arrest, President Gayoom had appealed for calm in the nation but followed this call with more arrests on protesters, escalating the country’s political tensions. Adeeb is yet to be released.
The Maldives, one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, has descended into a state of political uncertainty. It is unclear whether vice President Adeeb will be released and whether the political normalcy that has eluded the country for years will be found.