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Maldives News Bulletin, 17-08-2008
Issue No: 1165

Ratification of the New Constitution; "Major Step Forward"- Japan

11th Aug: The Government of Japan has welcomed the ratification of the new Constitution in a statement released yesterday.

In the statement, Japan conveyed that this achievement was a "major step forward in the democratic reform process," and expressed hope that the upcoming Presidential elections will progress in a "peaceful, free and fair manner". Japan further reaffirmed its commitment to the development of Maldives, and noted that it will continue to assist the efforts of the Government of the Maldives in its reform process.

In his message to the Japanese Foreign Minister, H.E Mr. Masahiko Komura, the Foreign Minister of Maldives, H.E Mr. Abdulla Shahid expressed the gratitude of the Maldives Government for the "continued support and cooperation by the Government of Japan, in its efforts to effect democratic change in the Maldives." Minister Shahid concluded his message by extending his sincere gratitude to the Government of Japan for its sustained commitment to the development of the Maldives.

 

The President abolishes the Judicial Advisory Council to the President

11th Aug: Following the enactment of the new Constitution, the President has abolished the Judicial Advisory Council to the President.

Under Article 282(iv) of the new Constitution, all appeals to the President should be sent to the Supreme Court and, will end the appellate jurisdiction the Council had.

The Judicial Advisory Council to the President was established on 2 February 1995. It was established to advise the President on judicial matters.

 

UN Special Rapporteur Welcomes New Constitution

12th Aug: The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Dr.Leandro Despouy, has welcomed the ratification of the new Constitution of the Maldives. In a press release issued today by the Office of the Special Rapporteur, Dr. Despouy said that the ratification demonstrated the "progress made by the Maldives towards democratic principles and the rule of law", particularly "the independence of the judiciary".

The Special Rapporteur expressed his satisfaction that the recommendations made in his report upon completion of his visit to the Maldives, had been incorporated to the new Constitution, which includes the establishment of a Supreme Council, the post of a Prosecutor General, creation of a Judicial Service Commission.

Dr. Despouy had visited the Maldives in February 2007 in response to the standing invitation issued by the Government of Maldives to all the UN human rights Special Procedures and Mechanisms.

Responding to the Statement, Minister of Foreign Affairs H. E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid expressed the Government's continued commitment to the protection of human rights and the completion of the democratic reform agenda. "We have just completed one phase of the Reform Agenda. The Statement by the Special Rapporteur is very encouraging as it demonstrates the Government's engagement and open-dialogue with the United Nations Human Rights mechanism", said the Minister. Continuing, the Minister remarked that, "the Maldives benefited greatly from Dr. Despouy's visit last year".

 

Director of the Political Affairs Division at the Commonwealth Secretariat pays a courtesy call on the President

12th Aug: The Director of the Political Affairs Division at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Mr. Mathew Neuhaus paid a courtesy call on the President, today.

In the meeting held at the President's Office this afternoon, the President noted the support and assistance given by the Commonwealth to his democratic reform agenda. He also said that the ratification of the new Constitution is a great step taken towards full democracy in the nation. The President also thanked the Commonwealth for their assistance and support for the preparations of the upcoming presidential elections.

Mr. Neuhaus congratulated the President, on behalf of the Commonwealth Secretary General, Mr. Sharma, on the ratification of the new Constitution and said that President is "the father of the new Constitution". At the meeting, Mr. Neuhaus gave his assurance that the Commonwealth would continue to give its full support to the President's democratic reform agenda, and that the Commonwealth would also continue giving assistance for the upcoming presidential elections.

The meeting was attended by Dr. Ahmed Shareef, Executive Secretary to the President; Dr. Hala Hameed, Deputy Minister at the President's Office; Ms. Dunya Maumoon, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ms. Nishana Jaywawickrama, Political Advisor of the Political Affairs Division at the Commonwealth Secretariat.

 

National Building Code launched

13th Aug: Ministry of Construction and Public Infrastructure has launched the Maldives National Building Code. The National Building Code was launched by the former Housing Minister Ibrahim Rafeeq at a ceremony held for the occasion at Dharubaaruge on Monday.

Speaking at the ceremony after the launching the National Building Code, Minister Rafeeq talked about the importance of regulating while the constructions were going on. He said work on producing the Code has been going on for some time.

Speaking to the media, after the ceremony construction minister Mohamed Mauroof Jameel said that it was important to keep the Building Code as a document that will be reviewed and updated periodically to reflect the changes and advancements in the construction industry.

According to minister Mauroof the Building Code lays down the standards for all aspects of constructions, including the quality and the area of open space of the building. Further the Building Code lays down structural standards of the building as well as standards on fire firefighting equipments that need to be kept in the building. He also said construction of all new building will be approved under the new code and that building already constructed or under construction need not conform to the new code.

 

Maldives holds business seminar in Malaysia

14th Aug: Maldives High Commission in collaboration with the Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) held a Maldives business seminar targeted to Malaysian businesses.

The seminar, aimed at providing information to Malaysian companies and to entice them to explore investment and business potential in the Maldives was attended by a number of Malaysian companies interested in investing and trading with the Maldives.

The event was initiated by addresses from Midhath Hilmy, High Commissioner of Maldives in Malaysia and Dzulkifli Mahmood, Head of South Asia Department at MATRADE, following which a presentation was given by the High Commission on the Maldives' economy and business and investment potential of the Maldives. In his statement the Maldives' envoy highlighted the importance of Malaysia as a development and trade partner to the Maldives and urged Malaysian companies to look into further opportunities in collaboration with Maldivian businesses.

The seminar concluded with a lively interactive Q& A session during which Malaysian companies expressed interest in looking into investment and business opportunities in tourism, trade and related sectors.

High Commission would also be participating at 'INTRADE', the largest trade event organized in Malaysia by MATRADE, scheduled for November 2008. High Commission encourages interested Maldivian businesses to take advantage of the incentives provided by MATRADE for foreign participants of INTRADE.

Malaysia is the fourth largest trading partner of Maldives and MATRADE estimates the value of Malaysian exports to Maldives at RM387 million in 2007.

 

The President appoints new Ministers

14th Aug: The President today appointed three new Ministers to the Cabinet. The three new Ministers are:

-       Dr. Aishath Shiham as the Minister of Youth and Sports

-       Dr. Ibrahim Hassan as the Minister of Higher Education, Employment and Social Security

-       Dr. Ali Haidhar Ahmed as the Minister of Housing and Urban Development

The President presented their Letters of Appointment at a ceremony held at the President's Office.

Before the presentation of the Letters of Appointment, the three new Ministers took their oath of Office in accordance with the new Constitution.

 

The President appoints Mr. Abdulla Hameed as the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs

14th Aug: The President today appointed Mr. Abdulla Hameed as the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

The President presented the Letter of Appointment to Mr. Hameed at a ceremony held at the President's Office.

 

The President declares the various posts necessary for the proper functioning of his duties

14th Aug: The President has issued a Decree stating the various posts needed for the fulfillment of presidential duties. Article 115(f) of the new Constitution empowers the President to appoint, dismiss and accept the resignations of members of the Cabinet, and such officials necessary for the proper functioning of the duties of his office.

The posts stated in the President's Decree are:

-       Senior Ministers and Dignitaries of that level

-       Minister level posts

-       Ministers of State

-       Deputy Ministers and State Dignitaries of that level

-       Executive Secretary to the President

-       Atoll Chief

-       Deputy Ambassadors designated to foreign countries and international organizations

-       Deputy Atoll Chief

-       Advisor to the Minister

-       Political Assistant to the Minister

-       Political secretary to the Minister

-       Spokespersons of government offices

-       Posts at the President's Office, Public Service Division and Public Service Training Institute

-       Posts at the Presidential Palace

 

50 Million Dollar law suit against the government filed

15th Aug: The government is being sued for US $ 55 Million as compensation for lost revenue for allegedly taking over Villingili of Addu atoll from Villingili Investments in violation of the contract agreement under which the island was initially leased.

The government in 1999 leased the island of Villingili for the development of a tourist resort to Villingili Investment. However the island was repossessed in 2005. The company claimed the island was repossessed against the contract agreement it had with government and has filed a law suit at the civil court on Wednesday morning claiming US $ 55 million as compensation for lost revenue.

Attorney to Energy Tours Husnu Al Suood speaking at a news conference held on Wednesday informed that when the island was repossessed by the government 90% of the concrete work was completed and that 30% of the entire resort was completed. He informed that the equipments and merchandize bought to complete the resort are being used by present owners of the resort and as such the merchandize and the equipments has to be valued and compensated for. He also pointed that when the island was repossessed sufficient time to complete the resort were left in the construction period agreed with the government under the terms of the contract. Suood informed that his clients were claiming a total of US $ 55 million, 70% of the projected revenue of the resort operation for a period 35 years.

"We have on previous occasions worked to get the compensations, we then decided not sue the government as we did not want to bring any discomfort to the people of the atoll, if we file then law suit then the government would have an end to the entire project, we are now proceeding with the law suit as the talks with the government over the matter failed" Suood said.

The company Energy Tours is owned 85% by Mohamed Manik, 7% percent by former Attorney General Dr. Mohamed Munavvar ,7% by former Planning Minister Ibrahim Hussain Zaki and 1 % by Ibrahim Didi. Suood said the repossession of the island was politically motivated.

Currently the island is being developed by Shangri La Maldives, a company part owned by the government.

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