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Maldives News Bulletin, 09-03-2008
Issue No: No.1152

Government remains steadfastly committed to holding multiparty democratic elections this year

2 Mar: The Government has renewed its commitment to hold multiparty democratic elections this year. Held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the press conference was hosted by Hon. Abdulla Shahid, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Mohamed Nasheed, Minister of Legal Reform, Information and Arts, Ms Aishath Azima Shukoor, Attorney General and Hon. Mohamed Muiz Adnan, Minister of Justice.
Taking questions from members of the press corps, all four members of the cabinet responded to queries on the progress of the agenda for political and legal reform in the country, and outlined the legislative, political and administrative tasks that need to be fulfilled in the coming months towards realizing the vision of a functional democracy in the Maldives. All ministers further expressed the government’s unwavering commitment to the democratic ideal and vowed to remain steadfast in working with all the stakeholders towards this end.
The press briefing was conducted immediately after commencing a joint presentation for the diplomatic corps on the progress of the reform agenda.



The Bhutanese and Austrian Ambassadors present their credentials to the President at a colorful ceremony

2 Mar: The Ambassador designated to the Maldives by the Bhutanese government, Mr. Tshering Dorji, and the Ambassador designated to the Maldives by the Austrian government, Dr. Ferdinand Maultaschl presented their credentials to the President at a colorful ceremony held today. The two new diplomats presented their credentials in separate ceremonies held at the President’s Office.
After the presentations, the President met with the two diplomats separately and discussed ways to further strengthen bilateral ties between the Maldives and the respective countries.
The two diplomats thanked the President and the Government for the colorful ceremony held in their honor.
The two ceremonies were attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Abdulla Shahid, Minister for Presidential Affairs, Mr. Mohamed Hussain, and the Deputy Minister at the President’s Office, Dr. Hala Hameed.
The diplomats were escorted with full military honors from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Republic Square where the Maldives National Defense Force accorded an Arrival Call. The diplomats then took their place on the Saluting Dais, where they inspected a General Salute and an Honor Guard.
The diplomats were then escorted to the President’s Office with full military honors, by the brass band and the marching troops of the MNDF.
The presentation of diplomatic letters of credence to Heads of State is a colorful ceremonial event across the world, and the adoption of this new layout in the Maldives is meant to reflect the importance of the event.


Foreign Minister Holds Discussions on Human Rights with Germany, Sri Lanka, India, Egypt

4 Mar:  The Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, has held a series of meetings in Geneva with his counterparts from Egypt, Germany, Sri Lanka, India, Ukraine, and Portugal. The meetings took place on the fringes of the Seventh Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. During the meetings, the officials discussed a range of topics including human rights and climate change, the Maldives’ democratic reform agenda and bilateral issues.
During his meeting with H.E. Dr. Mofid Shehab, Minister for Legal Affairs and Parliamentary Councils of the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Minister outlined the importance of the Maldives’ initiative to raise awareness around the human rights implications of climate change. The two Ministers also discussed the long-standing friendly relations between the two countries.
The Minister used his meeting with H.E. Mr. Gunter Nooke, Vice-Minister and Commissioner of the Federal Government of Germany for Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid to provide an update to the German Government on the Democratic and Human Rights Reform Agenda. The Minister especially drew attention to efforts to convene elections at the end of the year that meet international standards. He noted with appreciation that the European Union has agreed to dispatch an election expert team to help with the poll. The Minister and Vice-Minister went on to discuss Tsunami recovery, LDC graduation, and the Maldives’ Human Rights Council resolution on human rights and climate change. Regarding the latter, Germany is one of the countries with which the Maldives is working to take-forward its initiative on the human dimension of climate change.
Mr. Shahid also took the opportunity provided by his visit to Geneva to meet counterparts from the Maldives’ close friends and neighbours, India and Sri Lanka. During the meetings, both H.E. Mr. Anand Sharma, the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, and H.E. Mr. Mahinda Samarasinghe, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights expressed their Government’s support for the Maldives’ initiative on human rights and climate change. The Minister noted that the support was yet another example of the excellent bilateral relations that exist between Maldives and India, and Maldives and Sri Lanka respectively.


Foreign Minister Urges UN to Promote Human Face of Climate Change
4 Mar: The Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, addressed the High-Level Segment of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Seventh Session, and used his speech to urge the Council to look into the human rights implications of climate change as a way of generating understanding about the real-world human impact of global warming. “Without recognizing and understanding this human dimension of the problem; how can we, the family of nations, hope to take, within the framework of negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the difficult yet necessary decisions required to safeguard the future of vulnerable people around the world?” asked Mr. Shahid.
In order to illustrate his point, the Minister drew the attention of assembled Ministers to the fact that, if the latest predictions of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change are correct, then “children starting their young lives this morning in the Maldives will not have the opportunity to live-out their lives in the country of their birth; on the islands that their ancestors have inhabited for the past three and a half millennia”.
“I put it to the distinguished Members of the Council” said Minister Shahid, “that such an eventuality would represent a tragedy of unimaginable proportions, not just for the Maldives but for mankind in general”.
The Minister also used his speech to underscore the importance of 2008 as a “landmark year in the democratic history of the Maldives”. The Minister informed the Human Rights Council that after almost three years of work, the People’s Special Majlis is on the verge of completing the country’s new constitution; a document he called a “quantum leap for democracy and the rule of law in the Maldives”. Mr. Shahid told delegates that once the new Constitution is in place, together with necessary secondary legislation, the Maldives will be able to look forward, at the end of the year, to its first ever multi-party presidential elections.
The Foreign Minister went on to update the Council on key recent steps to improve human rights promotion and protection in the Maldives. He noted in particular the recent signature of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; the inclusion in the new Constitution of a dedicated chapter on fundamental rights; and landmark steps such as the removal of the gender bar from running for the Presidency, and the strengthening of freedom of assembly without prior permission.
In conclusion, the Minister emphasized the Government’s determination to continue to work with the Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in order to strengthen human rights during the 60th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As a symbol of this determination, the Minister informed the Council that the Maldives has decided to make a voluntary financial contribution to the UN fund that aims to give practical effect to the ideals set out in the Declaration.


Maldives urges World Bank to listen to the voices of the vulnerable on climate change

5 Mar:  The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms Dunya Maumoon, has asked the international community to 'listen to the voices of the vulnerable” when dealing with global warming. Speaking at the World Bank conference on the Social Dimension of Climate Change in Washington D.C, the Deputy Minister said the immediate effects of climate change threaten small island states like the Maldives, but the far-reaching impacts will reach into every community and neighborhood on the planet. 
In a strongly worded address, the Deputy Minister urged the international community to resist modest targets that would sacrifice the homes, jobs and lives of the most vulnerable communities on the planet. She appealed to the delegates attended the conference to urgently realize the devastating impacts of global climate change on small island states like the Maldives, and henceforth to act upon it with urgency and ambition.
In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that global warming is real, accelerating, and caused primarily by human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels. The Maldives is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of global warming associated with climate change. In recent years, coastal erosion and storm surges have caused considerable flooding and damage to property and lives of people.
The World Bank Social Dimension of Climate Change conference gathered experts from around the globe to discuss the implications for human well-being, human agency, social organization and social justice arising from global warming.

 
High Commissioner presents his Letter of Credence to Her Majesty the Queen

6 Mar:  The new High Commissioner of the Republic of Maldives to the United Kingdom, H.E. Dr. Mohamed Asim, has presented his Letter of Credence to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in a ceremony held at Buckingham Palace.
After the presentation of credentials, the new High Commissioner introduced accompanying High Commission officials and his wife to Her Majesty the Queen. After the introduction, Her Majesty gave a separate audience for the High Commissioner and his spouse, and enquired about the state of affairs in the Maldives. In this regard, High Commissioner Dr. Asim briefed Her Majesty on issues relating to environment and tourism, and also on tsunami recovery.
The High Commissioner was escorted to the Palace by Sir Anthony Figgis KCVO CMG, Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps on the royal carriage.
The High Commissioner later hosted the customary Vin d’honneur to mark and celebrate his appointment to the Court of St. James’s.
In his welcome remarks to the invitees, at the Vin d’honneur, the High Commissioner briefly outlined the issues that he would like to tackle during his tenure as the third High Commissioner of Maldives to the United Kingdom. In this regard, he said, “special focus will be given to seeking educational and training opportunities, promoting tourism and encouraging investors from the UK to invest in the Maldives.” Further, he said that he will be working closely with the UK Government and with other institutions on issues relating to the environment.
He also said that his tenure is coming at a very crucial juncture in the political landscape of the Maldives, and he will continue to work with the Government of the United Kingdom, and also with the Commonwealth with the ongoing assistance with regard to the successful implementation of the positive changes that are taking place in the Maldives.
The Vin d’honneur was well attended by High Commissioners, Ambassadors, senior Foreign and Commonwealth officials, Commonwealth officials, Maldivian families and students in the UK, as well as the people working in the tourism and private sector.
The reception was held at the Hyatt Regency London, the Churchill Hotel.


Two International Schools Established in Maldives by Turkish Government.

6 Mar: International schools will be established in the South and North of Maldives.
Also, work on the schools that are to be set up in Male’ will begin soon.
The minister, Zahiya Zareer stated that the Turkish Prime Minister mentioned the importance of a better education system during his visit.

He highlighted that the establishment of an international school will greatly improve the system.
He also expressed that the Turkish government will assist the project.

He arranged for a chain of Turkish international schools to come work in Maldives as well.
Samanyul Education Institution and Fathih University will be funded by the Turkish Education Group.
They are already in Maldives and have created and registered a company under the name Biz Atolls Private Limited.

The next step is to make Ghaazee School a state school and Fareedhiyaa school an international school.
It has also been suggested that the English Preparatory and Secondary school and Male’ English school be converted into International schools.

Also, the ministry states that they will only accept these international institutions, if they are willing to teach Islamic religion as a subject.


International Schools to open soon

7 Feb:  International schools will be established in the South and North of Maldives.
Also, work on the schools that are to be set up in Male’ will begin soon.
The minister, Zahiya Zareer stated that the Turkish Prime Minister mentioned the importance of a better education system during his visit.
He highlighted that the establishment of an international school will greatly improve the system.
He also expressed that the Turkish government will assist the project.
He arranged for a chain of Turkish international schools to come work in Maldives as well.
Samanyul Education Institution and Fathih University will be funded by the Turkish Education Group.
They are already in Maldives and have created and registered a company under the name Biz Atolls Private Limited.
The next step is to make Ghaazee School a state school and Fareedhiyaa school an international school.
It has also been suggested that the English Preparatory and Secondary school and Male’ English school be converted into International schools.
Also, the ministry states that they will only accept these international institutions, if they are willing to teach Islamic religion as a subject.



 

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