Friday, March 31, 2023
Maldives News Bulletin, 10-08-2008
Issue No: 1164

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says future generations of Maldivians will be grateful for the massive reforms that President Gayyoom is introducing

03rd Aug: The Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh has commended President Gayyoom for the massive reforms that he was introducing in the Maldives, and said that future generations of Maldivians will be grateful to President Gayyoom for the transformation that he has brought about in the country under his stewardship.

Meeting on the sides of the 15th SAARC Summit, President Gayyoom noted that, with the ratification of the new Constitution on the 7th of August, the Maldives will enter a new era of liberal democracy. He stressed the Government's firm commitment to ensure that the upcoming multiparty presidential election is free, fair and peaceful.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that India was very satisfied with the evolution of relations between the Maldives and India.  He added that the prosperity and security of the Maldivian people was a prime concern of India, and assured President Gayyoom of India's desire to work together with the Maldives' Government to further strengthen the existing special relations between the two SAARC partners. "Relations between India and the Maldives have progressed in a productive way for both our peoples", Dr. Singh added.

The two leaders discussed issues of bilateral importance.  President Gayyoom reiterated the Maldives' support for India's bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, while Dr. Manmohan Singh in return expressed India's firm support for the Maldives bid for a non-permanent seat in the Security Council in 2019. "As our close neighbor and friend, it is obvious that India will support the Maldives' candidature", the Indian Premier added.

President Gayyoom expressed his deep appreciation to his Indian counterpart for India's continued support and assistance towards development efforts in the Maldives.  He expressed his hope to build on the existing ties, by focusing on new areas of development.  He also thanked the Indian Prime Minister for his kind sentiments and words of encouragement.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stressed the importance of improving connectivity between the two countries, and expressed his satisfaction on the recent commencement of Maldivian carrier Island Aviation flights from Male' to Thiruvananthapuram.

President Gayyoom highlighted that rising food and oil prices was one of the most difficult problems that South Asia was grappling with at present, and expressed his happiness that India had assured the Maldives that it would ensure that there would be no food shortages in the country.

The two leaders also discussed ways to strengthen bilateral ties on the mutually important issue of climate change. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh highlighted President Gayyoom's wealth of experience in climate change diplomacy, and conveyed India's desire to work closely with the Maldives in bringing the plight of the vulnerable peoples of South Asia to the attention of the international community.  President Gayyoom in return said that the Maldives was ready and willing to pool its experience and knowledge with India on the important issues of climate change mitigation and adaptation.  He also noted the urgent need to address the growing climate-related problem of beach erosion.

Noting that the Maldives was to host the 16th SAARC Summit, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh offered India's firm support and assistance to the Maldives in preparing for the regional forum.


The President says SAARC can become an association of consensus

03rd Aug: In his vote-of-thanks at the Closing Session of the 15th SAARC Summit in Sri Lanka, President Gayyoom this afternoon expressed his confidence that SAARC could become an association of consensus.  He also said that SAARC had now truly become a people's association.

Speaking on the commitment of all SAARC member states to further cultivate the SAARC ideal, the President said that he was struck by the commonality of issues raised and the unanimity of vision expressed. 

"Every address by the Heads of State or Government contained honest assessments of the Association's current status, as well as inspiring ideas for future implementation and rally calls for greater regional cooperation on issues of critical importance for our peoples", he said.

Noting that he had had the good fortune of witnessing the growth of SAARC from its very inception, the President said that he now firmly believed that the Association's future was a very bright one.

He concluded his remarks by stating that he was looking forward to welcoming the SAARC fraternity in the Maldives in 2009, for the 16th SAARC Summit.   

Earlier in the day, the President joined the other seven SAARC leaders for the Summit Retreat, held in the Sri Lankan Parliament.


The President announces that the Maldives bid for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council to represent SAARC

03rd Aug: In a press briefing for the visiting Maldivian media contingent at the 15th SAARC Summit, President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom has announced that the high point of the Summit was the endorsement by all eight member states of SAARC to carry Maldives' bid for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council as a SAARC candidature.

Noting that the Maldives had, so far, never attempted to find a seat at a major international body, the President said that Government was firmly committed to succeeding in securing the country's bid for a non-permanent Security Council seat. He added that the Government had decided to begin lobbying well over a decade in advance, to increase the country's chances of success in this endeavor.

He noted that he had raised the issue at this morning's Retreat of the 15th SAARC Summit, and that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had immediately offered India's firm support for the Maldives' candidature. He added that all the other member countries had also strongly supported the bid, and decided that the Maldives' candidature should be as a representative for the South Asian region.   He also said that the Government would work on seeking the support of other friendly countries for its candidature in the time ahead.

The President also announced that the Maldives was seeking a seat in the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in 2011.


Maldives does not want to hide anything: Foreign Minister

04th Aug: Maldives does not want to hide anything to the world and we are among the few countries who want to reveal what is happening in the country, said Foreign Minister Abdulla. The Minister was attending the 12th SAARC Summit in Colombo and he addressed the closing session of South Asia Free Media Association SAFMA, held in Colombo in conjunction with the Summit.

Shahid explained Government has invited UN Special Rapporteurs to visit Maldives and one of these Rapporteurs would be visiting Male' at the end of the year. "They have accepted our invitation and UN Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression would visit Maldives at the end of the year. The Rapporteur's findings will let you know the status of freedom of expression in the Maldives. We are doing this because we do not want to hide anything, we want let the UN and others know we are genuinely progressing reforms" he said. The 4th Meeting of SAFMA discussed free media as its main topic.

In his speech to the meeting Shahid elaborated on the extent of freedom of media in the Maldives. He said news and articles published in newspapers and magazines are very critical of the Government and ministers and they have frequently called ministers to resign. But so far nothing has been published calling for my resignation," Shahid said in a humorously.

Shahid said there are four bills on media freedom submitted to the Majlis and media freedom would be further widened when these bills are passed by the Majlis.


Maldives to host 16th SAARC Summit

04th Aug: The president this evening said that the deliberations at 154th SAARC Summit have demonstrated that SAARC truly is a people's Association. He made the statement in his vote-of-thanks at the Closing Session of the 15th SAARC Summit in Colombo.

Nothing that this year's Summit in Sri Lanka coincides with the country's 60th year of independence, the president said that the 15th SAARC Summit was an auspicious occasion.

The president said that at the Colombo Summit, "the commitment of all member states to further cultivating the SAARC ideal was clearly on show" and that he strongly believe that the association's "future is very bright".

Focusing on the inaugural statement of the eight Heads of State or Government, the president highlighted that the addresses by the Heads of state or Government contained sincere evaluations of the Association's current status, as well as inspiring ideas for further implementation.

The president emphasized that the leaders were able to make important decisions that would affect the lives of their people, and noted that the four agreements signed by the Foreign Minister is proof of further growth and development of SAARC.

Emphasizing that the leaders called for grater regional cooperation on issues of critical importance, the president noted the "commonality of issues raised and the unanimity of vision." "SAARC can indeed become an Association of consensus". The president said.

The members decided that the 16th SAARC summit will be held in the Maldives. In his speech, the president said that the look forward to welcoming all members in Male' in 2009.
Charter of SAARC Development Funds, Agreement on the Establishment of South Asian regional Standards Organization and SAARC Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and the Protocol on Accession of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to Agreement on South Asian Free Trade Area were signed at the session. The agreements were signed by the foreign ministers of the eight member countries.


The President establishes "Maldives Ports Limited"

04th Aug: The President has established "Maldives Ports Limited". The newly established company will be a limited liability company with 100 percent Government ownership.

After this establishment, the "Maldives Ports Limited" will solely own all the assets, profits, debts, contracts, responsibilities and rights of the Government owned "Maldives Ports Authority".

I am confident of a comprehensive victory in the presidential election: President Gayyoom

04th Aug: In an exclusive interview to the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom has said that he is confident of a comprehensive victory in the upcoming presidential election in the Maldives.  

When asked how confident he was about representing the Maldives at the 2009 SAARC Summit in Male', President Gayyoom said that his track record of delivering on his promises of progress and prosperity for the people would enable him to achieve a seventh and final term in office. 

"The people know me well.  They know what to expect during my leadership.  They know that I have delivered.  They have experienced the transformation of the country from abject poverty to the highest levels of prosperity in the South Asian region", he noted. 

He noted that, when he assumed presidential office in 1978, the Maldives had only 13 days of food supplies for the people, but that, today, with the Grace of the Almighty Allah, no child in the Maldives has to go to bed with an empty stomach. He elaborated that the GDP per capita in 1978 was only US$ 300, and that the same statistic today is close to US$ 3,000.  Looking at the health sector, he emphasized that the infant mortality rate had declined sharply in the same period from 120 deaths per 1000 live births to only 14. He added that the development of the education sector was equally remarkable as, in 1978, there were only 4 Government schools, but that there are now over 300 schools across the country.

The President also highlighted the reasons behind his decision to seek presidential office for a further term. He said that one more five-year term would allow him to complete his promise of democratic reforms to the people. "That will be my legacy to my people", he added.

The President also granted an exclusive interview to Sri Lanka's state broadcaster Rupavahini.  In the interview, he focused on the growth of SAARC, and the highlights of the 15th SAARC Summit in Colombo.

The President abolishes the Ministry of Justice, and establishes Department of Justice

06th Aug: The President today has accepted the resignation of four Ministers. The four Ministers are Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Mr. Ibrahim Rafeeq, Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Mohamed Waheed Deen, Minister of Fisheries, Agriculture and Marine Resources, Mr. Hussain Hilmy and Minister of Justice Mr. Mohamed Muiz.

Speaking to the media at a press conference after today's Cabinet Meeting, the President said that the four Ministers submitted their resignation only because they are actively involved in business and the new Constitution which is to be ratified tomorrow does not allow Ministers to actively participate in businesses.

Noting that the four Minsters had served the Cabinet and the Government sincerely, the President expressed his appreciation to them.

Mr. Ibrahim Rafeeq, Mr. Hussain Hilmy and Mr. Mohamed Muiz were also present at the press conference. Speaking to the media, they thanked the President for giving the opportunity to serve as Cabinet Ministers and said that they are prepared to serve the Government which ever way they can.  Mr. Mohamed Waheed Deen was not able to participate in the press conference because he is not in the country.

Noting that a lot of changes have to be made, following the ratification of the new Constitution, the President said that one such change recommended by the Cabinet is the abolishment of the Ministry of Justice and to change it to a department operating under the Attorney General. Following this recommendation, the President abolished the Ministry of justice and established the Department of Justice, today.


The US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Mr. Richard Boucher calls on the President

06th Aug: The US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Mr. Richard A. Boucher, called on the President today.

Speaking at the meeting, the President spoke on the existing close relations between the Maldives and the United States. He expressed his appreciation for the assistance being extended by the US Government.

Speaking over the ratification of the new Constitution, the President said that tomorrow's ratification of the new Constitution is going to be a milestone in the democratic process of the country and said that the revision of the Constitution is the lynchpin of his democratic reform agenda.

Mr. Richard Boucher said that as a lot of changes will take place following the ratification of the Constitution, a small country like the Maldives will face problems in developing human resources. He emphasized the importance of the Maldives getting help from friendly countries, and said that the United States will provide assistance in anyway it can.

The meeting was attended by the Minister for Presidential Affairs, Mr. Mohamed Hussain, and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Abdulla Hameed and Deputy Minister at the President's Office, Dr. Hala Hameed.


US Welcomes the Ratification Process of the New Constitution

06th Aug: The Assistant Secretary of State, H.E. Mr. Richard A. Boucher, paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid earlier today.

Minister Shahid welcomed the US delegation, which also included the US Ambassador to the Maldives, H.E. Mr. Robert Blake Jr., the Senior Advisor at the US State Department for South and Central Asia, Ms. Caitlyn Hayden, and Political Officer at the US Embassy, Mr. Ben Barry.

During the call, Minister Shahid briefed Mr. Boucher on the reform agenda and the immediate measures required holding the forthcoming elections, and on this note, the Assistant Secretary of State extended his congratulations on the ratification process of the new Constitution, which is due to take place tomorrow.

Minister Shahid expressed his gratitude, onbehalf of the Government of the Maldives to the US Government for its continued support, and welcomed future opportunitiesfor assistance from the US.

Today's call was also attended by the DeputyMinister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Abdullah Hameed, and Director at theMinistry, Mr. Ibrahim Hood.


The President ratifies the new Constitution

07th Aug: The President has ratified the new Constitution today. The ratification ceremony was held this morning at Dharubaaruge.

In his speech before the ratification, the President said that the opportunities created by the new Constitution would herald a new era of national life that is epitomized by new ties of cooperation and unity amongst us.

Further, the President said that he was confident that with this new opportunity, all citizens would give priority to the greater good. He also said the new Constitution would help enrich ourselves with new thinking and vision.

The President said that democracy was a political system in which everyone had an equal share and everyone had the opportunity for political participation, and that democracy could pave the way for a cooperative social system in spite of the existence of plural views amongst us. In this regard, he said that democracy could accommodate our 310,000 population notwithstanding our differences in thinking and opinions. He also said that democracy was both an ideal and a path to tread on for change, reform and progress. 

The President said that today marked the day that would usher in a new era of governance that was based on the principles of modern liberal democracy and the principles of Islam.  

The President also said the changes that we have brought to our system of governance were not merely formal, but that this transformation would truly help to fulfill our goals and aspirations, and help to realize our dreams.  

Speaking on human rights, the President said the new Constitution would provide civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in accordance with international standards.

The President said that the successful completion of the new Constitution was the effort of not a single individual or a party, but it was a national endeavor that shows national unity and progress.   

After his speech, the President ratified the new Constitution. The Decree of Ratification of the Constitution was read out by Ms. Aneesa Ahmed. A special supplication was made by Sh. Mohamed Rasheed Ibrahim.