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Maldives News Bulletin, 10-02-2008
Issue No: No.1148

Commonwealth Team calls on the Minister of Foreign Affairs

3 Feb:  A team from the Commonwealth Secretariat called on the Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Abdulla Shahid today.
The Minister thanked the Commonwealth for the ongoing engagement and support to the Reform Agenda in the Maldives. He briefed them about the progress being made on the reform agenda, including the revision of the constitution.
The Commonwealth team comprising of Mr. John Turner, Commonwealth electoral expert, Mr. Pavan Kapoor, Adviser and Head of Asia/Europe Section and Ms. Sabhita Raju, Political Affairs Officer, are visiting the Maldives on the invitation of the Government as part of Commonwealth technical support to strengthening the electoral system. The team will be meeting with key stakeholders from the government, parliamentarians and political parties during their visit.
Ms. Dunya Maumoon, Deputy Minister and senior officials of the Foreign Ministry joined the meeting.


The President issues a Decree on transferring some of the functions related to civil servants, from the Public Service Division of the President’s Office to the Civil Service Commission

3 Feb: The President today issued a Decree on transferring some of the functions related to civil servants, from the Public Service Division of the President’s Office to the Civil Service Commission.
Maldives’ Civil Service Act, which was passed recently as part of the Roadmap of the Democratic Reform Agenda, established an independent Civil Service Commission with full statutory powers.  While the Act grants and states the legal status, objectives, responsibilities and jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission, the President felt that transferring civil servants’ employment-related matters to the Commission in advance of the date of enforcement of the Act on the Maldives’ Civil Service Commission would facilitate the new Commission to start functioning before the Act enters into force.
Under the Decree no. 01/2008 issued today by the President, all functions that are to become responsibilities of the new Civil Service Commission from the appointment, dismissal and transferring of officials of the State, in accordance with Article 3, Chapter 1 of the Act on Official Matters (Act no. 1/68) and the allocation of salary and other remuneration to Government employees, in accordance with Article 1 of the Act on Government Employees’ Salary (Act no. 13/80) are to be transferred from the Public Service Division of the President’s Office to the Civil Service Commission from 2 March 2008.
The Decree will remain effective until the date of enforcement of the Act on the Maldives’ Civil Service, as stated in Article 73 (a) of the Act on the Maldives’ Civil Service.
The Decree was issued under the powers granted to the President by Article 42 (e) of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives.


Government Unveils Massive Legal Reform Agenda

3 Feb: The government on Sunday unveiled a hugely ambitious programme of legal reform, with 87 new bills to be drafted in what amounts to a complete overhaul of the Maldivian legal system. Of these 87 bills, except 8, all others are new bills.

Mohamed Nasheed, Minister for Information and Legal Reform, was optimistic about the plans, saying a new consultation procedure should shorten the time each takes to pass through the Majlis (parliament).

But Nasheed says a new process, modelled on the UK system, will see bills put out for consultation with the public in a “green paper” and with political parties in a “white paper”, with the aim of cutting the parliamentary time required.

He expects the first two “packages” of bills – on elections and the judiciary – will be fully drafted and ready for this process by the end of February.

Furthermore, for the elections to be more independent and fair, 7 laws and 3 regulations would be also made.


The President Meets Electoral Expert sent by Commonwealth Secretariat

4 Feb: The President today met with Mr. John Turner, the Electoral Expert sent by the Commonwealth Secretariat to provide technical assistance in electoral reform.
During the meeting, Mr. John Turner acknowledged the steps taken by the government to address the recommendations made by him and the Commonwealth expert team in order to strengthen the electoral process. Mr. Turner stated that further steps need to be taken by the government to develop the electoral system in compliance with international standards.  He said that this was his fourth visit to the Maldives and expressed pleasure at being given the opportunity to work in the Maldives.
The President thanked Mr. Turner for his contribution to develop and strengthen the Maldivian electoral system and highlighted the contribution made by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Secretary- General himself in carrying forward his reform agenda. The President also briefed Mr. Turner on the progress made in revising the constitution. Further, the President spoke on the government’s efforts to rebuild after the 2004 Tsunami and thanked the Commonwealth Secretariat for their assistance in Tsunami relief.
The Minister at the President’s Office Ms. Aneesa Ahmed, Deputy Minister at the President’s Office Dr. Hala Hameed, Deputy Minister at the Foreign Ministry Ms. Dunya Maumoon and Commonwealth Advisor and Head of Asia Europe Section Mr. Pavan Kapoor and Political Affairs Officer Ms. Sabhita Raju attended today’s meeting held at the President’s Office.


High Commissioner of Maldives to the UK pays a courtesy call on the Commonwealth Secretary-General


4 Feb: H.E Dr. Mohamed Asim, High Commissioner of the Maldives to UK paid a courtesy call on the Rt. Hon. Donald C. McKinnon, Commonwealth Secretary-General. The call took place at Marlborough House, London, today.
During the call the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner-d discussed progress of the on-going reform agenda including assistance provided by the Commonwealth towards electoral reform and the forthcoming Presidential election in the Maldives this year.
 The High Commissioner- Dr. Asim also highlighted the Maldives’ engagement with the Commonwealth and stated that the Maldives enjoy active participation in the activities of the Commonwealth. He further informed the Secretary General that the Maldives is considering re-joining the Commonwealth Foundation and referred to the successes Maldives has had with the development of public sector reform through assistance from the Governance and Institutional Division of the Commonwealth as the whole public sector had benefited from this.
 Mr. Adam Hassan, Deputy High Commissioner of the Maldives to the UK, Mr. Mathew Neuhaus, Director, Political Affairs, of the Commonwealth Secretariat along with Mr. Simon Jimson, Deputy Head of the Office of the Secretary-General, Ms. Nishana Jayawickrama, Political Advisor, Political Affairs Division and Mr. Ahmed Haanee Naeem, Third Secretary at the Maldives High Commission took part in the call.


The President sends Independence Day felicitations to the leaders of Sri Lanka

4 Feb: The President has sent messages of felicitations to the President of Sri Lanka, Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse and the country’s Prime Minister, Mr. Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, on the occasion of Sri Lanka’s Independence Day.
In his messages, the President extended warm felicitations and good wishes to the leaders of Sri Lanka, the Government and the friendly people of Sri Lanka. He also expressed his confidence that the warm and cordial relations of friendship and co-operation that existed between the two countries would continue to reach greater heights in the coming years.


“Enhancing bilateral and development ties and exploring new areas of cooperation are the priorities of this State visit to India”, says the President

6 Feb: The President has said that enhancing bilateral and development ties and exploring new areas of cooperation were the top priorities of his current State visit to India.  He made the statement in responding to a question presented to him by Television Maldives, in a meeting with the media contingent accompanying the President on the visit.  The meeting was held on the special Air India flight that the President and his delegation took to travel from Male’ to New Delhi.
The President went on to say; “India is one of the powerhouses of Asia, and the most populated country in South Asia.  We enjoy historic close friendly relations with India.  In every hour of national need, India is among the first to extend their assistance.”
The President also stressed the importance of further strengthening bilateral ties with India. He added that, for many years, it had therefore been a foreign relations priority of the Maldives to enhance the existing close friendly relations with India.


The President and the First Lady arrives in Indian capital


6 Feb: The President and the First Lady arrived this afternoon in the Indian capital, New Delhi, on a State Visit. 
They were welcomed on arrival at the New Delhi Airport by India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr. E. Ahmed, the High Commissioner of the Maldives to India, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Anbaree Abdul Sattar Adam, his wife, Ms Ihsana Ahmed, officials of the Maldives’ High Commission in India and protocol officials of the government of India.
The President has said that enhancing bilateral and development ties and exploring new areas of cooperation were the top priorities of his current State visit to India. 
He made the statement in responding to a question presented to him by Television Maldives, in a meeting with the media contingent accompanying the President on the visit.  The meeting was held on the special Air India flight that the President and his delegation took to travel from Male’ to New Delhi.
The President stressed the importance of further strengthening bilateral ties with India.
The President and the First Lady were seen-off at the Male’ International Airport by the Ministers, State Ministers, State Dignitaries, and some senior officials of the government.
During his visit to India, the President is scheduled to meet with the President of India, Mrs. Prathiba Patil and the country's Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh.
The President will also attend Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2008, which will begin on the 07th of January in New Delhi.
On this visit, the President’s delegation includes Minister of Environment, Energy and Water, Mr. Ahmed Abdulla, Minister of Foreign Affairs and some senior officials of the government.


President Gayoom presented with the Sustainable Development Leadership Award 2008


7 Feb: His Excellency Mr. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, President of the Republic of Maldives was today presented with the Sustainable Development Leadership Award for 2008.  The prestigious award was presented by Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh. 
The President dedicated the award to the Maldivian people.  In his acceptance speech, he said:
“I dedicate this Award to the people of the Maldives who continue to battle against the elements on a daily basis.  In particular, every island community of ours that was devastated by the deadly tsunami of December 2004, every family whose homes have been damaged by sea swells and every individual who has had to migrate from his or her home island to safer islands because of rapid beach erosion are the true champions in the fight against climate change.”
He said that he was deeply honored and humbled to have received the award, and noted that it was a great privilege to be recognized by such a prestigious organization as The Energy and Resources Institute of India (TERI).   He also thanked the Chairman of TERI, Dr. Arcot Ramachandran, the Director General of the Institute, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri and all members of the Institute, for recognizing his work to raise global awareness on the plight of the Maldivian people, who he described as “an innocent yet seriously imperiled people”.
In his speech, the President said that the award symbolized TERI’s support for worldwide efforts to promote sustainable development practices, while recognizing the plight of the world’s low-lying Small Island Developing States such as the Maldives. 
He recalled that he began his climate change diplomacy work in 1987, and spoke on some of the key milestones and achievements of the international community.
He said:
“We have surely come a long way.  I believe that our efforts have been quite successful.”
“Twenty years ago, the challenge was to spread our message as far as possible, and to as many decision-makers as possible.  The road was, more often than not, a bumpy one.”
The President paid tribute to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for their important contributions in the field.  He said that the IPCC were “true champions of climate change diplomacy”.
The President said that the human dimension of climate change had largely been ignored over the past decade, and called on the international community to “put people back at the heart” of the debate.
He also noted that the theme chosen by TERI for the DSDS 2008, “Sustainable Development and Climate Change”, struck at the “very heart of the toughest global environmental challenge of our time”.
World leaders who attended the Summit congratulated the President on receiving the coveted award.  Some delegates noted that it was President Gayoom who had first put sea-level rise and the plight of Small States on the map.
The President also joined a VIP Panel Discussion, titled “The Scientific Evidence: A Call for Action”, at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2008. 
The Panel was moderated by the President of NDTV, Dr. Prannoy Roy.  In addition to President Gayoom, the Panel included the President of Iceland, Mr. Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, the Prime Ministers of Denmark, Norway and Finland, Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg and Mr. Matti Vanhenen, respectively, the Former President of Switzerland, Mr. Moritz Leuenberger and the Former Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Prof. Ruud F M Lubbers. Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Director-General of TERI also spoke.
President Gayoom noted that scientific evidence proved with a high degree of certainty that global warming and sea-level rise would be catastrophic for the Maldives and other low-lying countries.  He pointed out that long before the international community began to accept that the climate system was undergoing severe changes as a result of anthropogenic activities, the people of the Maldives knew of the coming danger.  He elaborated that beaches had been eroding, the weather patterns had changed drastically and become unpredictable, and storm surges had become more frequent.
In his intervention, the President said that the Maldives had, for many years, been warning the international community of the impending danger.  He noted that the diplomacy work to raise global awareness on the plight of the Maldives and other SIDS had received a tremendous boost as a result of the concrete scientific evidence provided by the IPCC.
He said:   
“Today, there is near universal acceptance that both climate change and sea-level rise are clear and present dangers.  There is also no doubt that the world’s small island states will be the first victims if there is a failure to address this global environmental calamity.”
The President also highlighted some of the most important mitigation and adaptation measures that the Government of Maldives had taken over the years.
The President also answered questions from the floor, during the one-and-a-hour deliberation.
After the opening ceremony of the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2008, the President then inaugurated the International Climate Change Exhibition organized by TERI as part of the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2008.  The President was requested to inaugurate the exhibition by the Director General of TERI, Dr. Rajendhra Pachauri. 
The exhibition, which is aimed at sensitizing the public to the causes and effects of climate change, nurturing partnerships for developing solutions, and addressing innovations in various fields to demonstrate best practices and solutions, is being held at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi. Numerous Governments, businesses, multilateral and bilateral organizations, and NGOs are participating in the exhibition.
After opening the exhibition, the President and the First Lady were offered a guided tour of the exhibition. They visited a number of stands and inquired about the exhibits.


The President and the First Lady meet with Ambassadors and High Commissioners resident in New Delhi


8 Feb: The President and the First Lady has met with Ambassadors and High Commissioners resident in New Delhi who are accredited to the Maldives and former High Commissioners of India to the Maldives. The reception was held at Hotel Shangri-La, New Delhi.
In his speech at the reception, the President expressed his pleasure on meeting the diplomatic representatives accredited to the Maldives, and noted that New Delhi is a special place for Maldivian foreign service, as there are more diplomatic representatives accredited to the Maldives residing here than anywhere else. 
In his speech, the President highlighted on the major transformations the country is undergoing presently.
He said:
“The democratic reform agenda that I initiated in June 2004 is now in its last and most important leg.  Much has already been achieved.  Some of the highlights over the past three-and-a-half years include the establishment of a Paris Principles-compliant National Human Rights Commission, the introduction, for the very first time in the country’s history, of political parties, complete media freedom and modernizing the criminal justice system”.
He said that the focus at present is on completing the drafting of a new Constitution that would facilitate aspirations of ushering in a fully liberal democracy.  He also expressed his pleasure to say that the work of the Constitutional Assembly will be completed in a few weeks time.
The President further said:
“We are also laying the groundwork to hold the country’s first multiparty presidential election later this year.  We are planning to table a host of reform bills before the Parliament during its coming session beginning next month. The bills are designed to ensure that the presidential election will be free and fair by international standards.”
In his speech, the President spoke on the post-tsunami recovery programme and noted that with strong support and assistance from bilateral friends and the donor community, that we have successfully rehabilitated the lives of the vast majority of the 15,000 victims across the country.
He said:
“Strong stakeholder support and the partnership efforts of the Government and people of the Maldives have ensured the success of both the democratic reform agenda and the post-tsunami recovery programme.  As many of our close bilateral friends are here today, I would like to sincerely thank you all for your crucial role in our social and economic development, and hope that our association will continue to strengthen in the time ahead.”
In his speech, the President also noted that he had been alerting the international community to the urgent need to address global warming and climate change and urged all the diplomatic representatives to appeal to policymakers in their respective countries to join hands with Maldives in ensuring that we leave an environmentally secure planet for our future generations.
The welcome remarks were delivered by the Maldivian High Commissioner to India, Lt. Gen (Ret.) Anbaree Abdul Sattar.
In his vote-of-thanks, the Syrian Ambassador to the Maldives, Mr. Fahd Salim said that all the Diplomatic Representatives were deeply honored by the President’s presence and thanked the President for the meeting with them.
The President and the First Lady personally met with all the Diplomatic Representatives at the meeting.


We consider our relations with Maldives as ‘special’: Indian Defense Minister A.K. Anthony


8 Feb: Speaking with President Gayoom in New Delhi, Indian Defense Minister Mr. A.K. Anthony yesterday said that India considered her relations with the Maldives as ‘special’.  Mr. Anthony noted that cooperation between the two countries on defense and security issue was very good.  He added that the main reason for the sustained bonds of friendship between the two neighbors was President Gayyoom’s personal initiative and commitment.
President Gayoom thanked the Indian Government for its assistance towards various sphere of national development in the Maldives, including the long-standing support towards human resource development in the defense sector.
The Indian Defense Minister congratulated the President on receiving the Sustainable Development Leadership Award for 2008.  He spoke on the President’s pioneering efforts many years back to raise global awareness on climate change.
The President noted India’s strong commitment to protecting and preserving the environment. He noted that India had fulfilled its international obligations on issues related to the environment in an admirable manner. Further, he spoke on the importance of working in partnership in the time ahead to ensure that the global push for a pragmatic solution to climate change would become a reality.
Mr. Anthony commended the President on his initiative to introduce a modern democracy in the Maldives and wished him every success in the upcoming important tasks of the reform agenda.  He ensured the President of India’s continued full support for the reform efforts. He also spokes on the importance of ensuring that peace and stability prevailed in the country in the run-up to the presidential election later this year.


The President meets with the CEO of the International Finance Corporation


9 Feb: The President today met with the Chief Executive Officer of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Mr. Lars Thunell.
The President thanked the IFC for the capacity building partnerships that it has established in the Maldives.  He noted the role of the IFC in project financing, advisory services and infrastructure assistance towards a number of important ventures in the Maldives.
The CEO of IFC noted that the Maldives was a country with great development potential.  He said that the IFC was keen to further widen its role in the country.
The President and Mr. Thunell discussed the importance of environmental security for Small Island States such as the Maldives, including mitigation and adaptation from climate change.
The President noted that the country was today embarking on a number of important long-term initiatives, including the South Tourism Zone, the development of Hulhumale’ and the expansion of the country’s domestic airports network.
Mr. Thunell commended the President on the development of the Maldives, and highlighted the policies of the Government in the social, economic and finance sectors.
The meeting was attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Abdulla Shahid, the High Commissioner of the Maldives in India, Lt. Gen. (Rtd.) Anbaree Abdul Sattar, and the Executive Secretary to the President, Dr. Ahmed Shareef and the Presidential Spokesperson, Mr. Mohamed Hussain Shareef.

 

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