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Maldives News Bulletin, 23-03-2008
Issue No: No.1154

Foreign Minister Returns to Male’, after concluding his visit to Geneva and Dakar

16 Mar: Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid returned to Male’ after concluding his visit to Dakar, Senegal to attend the 13th summit of the Organization of the Islamic Summit Conference.
Minister Shahid addressed at the 13th summit of the OIC in which he called on the OIC to embrace and adapt to the new realities and challenges of the 21st century with a firm vision. Such a vision, Minister said ought to be one of, “Islam- as it is a religion of moderation and modernity”.
Minister Shahid participated at the Summit as the Special Envoy of the President of the Maldives.
Prior to arriving in Senegal Minister Shahid visited Geneva, Switzerland to attend the 7th session of the Human Rights Council. The Maldives will table a resolution on the impact of climate change on the enjoyment of human rights at the ongoing session.
On arrival the Minister was welcomed by senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


UN reporter hails Judicial Reform

17 Mar: In a press release the Special Reporter on the independence of judges and lawyers welcomed the decision of the Criminal Court on 5 March 2008 to acquit a Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) member, Imran Zahir, of the accusation made earlier of “causing disharmony through an unlawful assembly”, which is punishable under the penal code. According to the statement, the acquittal “demonstrates the progress made by Maldives towards the independence of the judiciary since the Special Reporter visited the country in February last year.”
The statement said, “Since 2004, a number of political activists were charged under the current penal code with offences such as disobedience to order, disruption of religious harmony, unlawful assembly, peace disruption and obstructing police duty. The current effort of the Government of the Maldives, through the Attorney General’s Office, to review these cases represents an important step towards the effective implementation of the human rights obligations of Maldives under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The political determination of the Government of the Maldives to comply with its international human rights obligations prior to the first multi-party election is very encouraging. The Special Reporter is committed to offer his assistance to support the current effort of the Government to review the remaining cases”.
Commenting on the UN press release, the Minister of Justice, H.E. Mr. Mohamed Muizz Adnan, said:
“The Maldives has demonstrated time and again its commitment to working with international partners to improve human rights in the Maldives. We have signed 8 of the 9 core international human rights conventions, moving us to the top of the international class in this area. We have extended a standing invitation to UN human rights special reporters to visit the country – one of only 50 or so countries to do so. However, our commitment does not end with these steps. We are also determined to implement the principles we sign-up to as well as the recommendations provided by UN Special Reporters.
Since the visit of Dr. Despouy last year, the Maldives has taken a number of important steps, such as inter alia the appointment of the country’s first female judges, to implement his recommendations for the creation of a strong independent judiciary. I am delighted that Dr. Despouy has once again recognized this “political determination” as well as the “progress made towards the independence of the judiciary”.
We are also delighted that Dr. Despouy has renewed his commitment to work with the Maldives to further enhance progress in the judicial sector”.


Malaysian Government donates towards tidal-swell reconstruction

17 Mar: A ceremony was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to handover a donation of USD 50,000 by the Malaysian Government towards reconstruction efforts following tidal swells throughout the Maldives last May. On behalf of the Malaysian Government the donation was presented by His Excellency Mr. Rosli Ismail, High Commissioner of Malaysia to the Maldives and on behalf of the Maldivian Government the donation was received by, His Excellency Mr. Abdulla Shahid, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Speaking at the ceremony, Minister Shahid expressed his gratitude for Malaysia’s continued assistance towards the socio-economic development of the Maldives and expressed hope that it would continue to do so in the years ahead.
Minister Shahid also highlighted the important role played by Malaysia within the international community in working towards mitigating the effects of climate change through various initiatives and international engagements. He also expressed his appreciation for the support given by Malaysia in combating the effects of climate change.
High Commissioner Rosli Ismail, noted the close bilateral relations that exist between the two countries and discussed ways of further strengthening this relationship.
Today's ceremony was attended by Ms. Aishath Azeema, Director at Department of the External Resources, Ms. Fathimath Inaya, Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Mr. Mohamed Ezuwan Hassan, Second Secretary at the Malaysian High Commission.


German Ambassador Calls on the Foreign Minister


18 Mar: The German Ambassador to the Maldives, H.E. Mr Jurgen Weerth paid a courtesy call on H.E. Mr Abdulla Shahid, Minister of Foreign Affairs today.
During the call Minister Shahid briefed the Ambassador on the progress of constitutional reform and the reform agenda in general. Ambassador Weerth highlighted the close relations that exist between the two countries and discussed with the Minister, issues of bilateral significance.
The call which took place at the Foreign Ministry, was attended by, H.E. Mr. Abdul Azeez Yoosuf, Ambassador at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Mr. Ibrahim Hood, Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


The President meets with a visiting European Commission delegation

18 Mar: The President met with the members of a visiting European Commission delegation.
The members of the EU delegation assured their continued support towards democratization in the Maldives, and reaffirmed their commitment to extending election observer support to the Maldives during the multiparty presidential election scheduled for later in the year.
The President briefed the delegation of the current status of the democratic reform agenda, and noted that the work to draft the new Constitution was nearing completion.  Highlighting that the EU was a key stakeholder in the democratic reform process, he thanked the EU for their support and assistance to the Maldives in key national issues, including the democratic reform agenda and the post-tsunami recovery programme.  He also emphasized the high priority that the Government attached to ensuring that the presidential election was free, fair and peaceful.
The President and the members of the delegation also discussed the establishment of a strategic alliance between the Maldives and the EU, and the programming of EU aid to the Maldives in the future. 


The Cabinet endorses the National Housing Policy

19 Mar: The Cabinet has endorsed the National Housing Policy, which was drawn up by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.
Among the key components of the National Housing Policy are the facilitation of housing finance and human resources development in the Urban Ministry and other concerned authorities of the Government.
In today’s meeting, members of the Cabinet highlighted the importance of the Policy.  Members also recalled that the Policy was a commitment of the President in his Presidential Address for this year.
The new Policy was drawn up in consultation with other concerned Government bodies, civil service organizations and members of the general public.
In today’s meeting, the Cabinet also discussed the formulation of a new framework for regulating public companies.  After deliberating on the matter, members of the Cabinet advised the President to adopt the new framework. A key recommendation was the establishment of a ministerial commission on regulation of public companies.
 

Foreign Minister Welcomes Continued EC Support

19 Mar: Foreign Minister H. E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid has welcomed the press statement issued by the European Commission (EC) currently in Maldives that expressed the EC’s support for early elections and announced strategic environmental alliance with the Maldives.
The statement by the EC read as follows:
“The Director for Asia in the European Commission, Mr. James Moran, met with the President and various ministers today in Male to review relations between the country and the European Union.
On preparations for elections and the reform road map, Mr. Moran stated that he was impressed by the progress made in the last two years but recognized that there was great pressure on the government and opposition parties to finish on time. He said: "With so much achieved and a clear momentum underway, it would be a great blow to the country to fall at the last hurdle." Two immediate challenges discussed were the need to finalize the Constitution at the next Special Majlis so as to have time to establish the independent Commissions, especially for elections, police and judiciary, which will be so crucial in assuring free and fair elections over the summer.
Mr. Moran took the opportunity to announce an expansion immediately in the EU's support for elections' preparation. In addition, he outlined there will be a team sent over the actual period of the elections to assess the electoral process as well as plans to mobilize parliamentarians, diplomats and others to assist in observation of the election day.
The EC agreed with the President and his minister’s new initiatives to deepen the strategic ties and cooperation between the EU and Maldives. Building on the current successful political cooperation between the EU and Maldives to combat global climate change, Mr. Moran announced that aid funds will be provided to help this fragile island state build further "safe islands". In addition, the EC announced support to help combat drugs abuse in Maldives, a social menace that threatens both Maldives and Europe alike and which both are keen to cooperate on.”
Commenting on the statement, Foreign Minister Shahid said,
““There is no doubt that the EU has become one of our most valued and trusted international partners; and as such we very much welcome the visit of Mr. Moran and the EU’s expressions of support for developments in the Maldives. The EU has been especially active in supporting efforts to implement the Government’s Reform Agenda and I am pleased that, like domestic stakeholders in the Maldives, they are now seeing the fruits of their labour. We concur with Mr. Moran that while much has been achieved to-date, it is vital for the Maldives to complete the agenda of reform on time. In that regard the end-of-year elections are clearly vital and we are delighted that the EU has announced the immediate expansion of its electoral support.
“The Maldives and the EU are also vital strategic partners on the issue of climate change” continued Minister Shahid. “President Gayoom’s address to a major EU conference on climate change in Lisbon late last year was just one important example of Maldives-EU cooperation on climate change. Another is EU support for the Maldives’ attempts to raise awareness about the impact of climate change on human rights. The Maldives Government commends the EU for its continued global leadership on climate change – leadership that will be vital if we are to agree a new global post-Kyoto framework on climate change”. 
Concluding his comments, the Minister also thanked the European Commission for its ongoing support for the “Safer Islands” programme and efforts to combat drug-abuse.
The EC delegation began their official visit this morning during which they called on the Minister of Foreign Affairs. They also paid a courtesy call on His Excellency the President today.


Government discusses future environmental alliance with the EU

19 Mar: A European Commission (EC) delegation consisting of Mr. James Moran, Director of Asia, Ms. Helen Campbell, Head of Unit of South Asia of the EC External Relations Directorate and His Excellency Mr. Julian Wilson, Ambassador of the European Commission met with His Excellency Mr. Abdulla Shahid, Minister of Foreign Affairs today.
The meeting, which took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, mainly focused on follow up to the Maldives’ request to become a pilot country of the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) initiated by the EU. Mr. Moran expressed his confidence on the possibility of the Maldives’ selection as one of the pilot countries under the alliance. The Global Climate Change Alliance was launched in September 2007 by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Development and aims to act as a link between the EU and poor developing countries most vulnerable to climate change, in particular the Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.
Minister Shahid emphasized the fragility of the Maldivian natural environment and thanked the EU for its strong support in working with the Maldives to bring the issue of climate change and its impact on the enjoyment of human rights to the attention of the Human Rights Council.
Minister Shahid further highlighted the strong support rendered by the EU to the development of the Maldives and discussed possible development assistance in combating drug-related issues. The Minister and the EC delegation discussed the modalities of future aid programmes.
Discussions were also held on the progress of the ongoing reform agenda and the Minister expressed his appreciation to the EU, for its continued support to the Reform Agenda. He noted that EU’s support was a clear demonstration of the positive work of the Government and the people in the democratic process. 
The meeting was attended by H.E. Mr. Abdul Azeez Yoosuf, Ambassador at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Aishath Azeema, Director at the Department of External Resources and Mr. Ibrahim Hood, Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Minister Shahid pays courtesy call on the Singapore Minister of Foreign Affairs George Yeo

20 Mar: The Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Abdulla Shahid has paid a courtesy call on the Singapore Minister of Foreign Affairs His Excellency George Yeo. During the meeting, which took place at the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister Shahid briefed the Singapore Minister on the ongoing process of reform in the Maldives and how the Government is encouraged by recent comments from our international partners. Minister Shahid also thanked the Singaporean government for its support and leadership role as an international champion of small states. The Minister also noted with gratitude, the significant contribution made to the human resource development of the Maldives under the auspices of the Singapore Cooperation Programme and discussed the possibility of easing the visa regime for Maldivian students in Singapore. The Singapore Minister assured the Minister to refer the matter to the relevant authorities in the Singaporean government for further consideration.
Speaking at the call, Minister Yeo noted the close ties of friendship between the Maldives and Singapore. On specific issues, the Minister expressed the strong support of the Singaporean Government for the Maldives-led Human Rights Council resolution on the 'human dimension of climate change.’ The Minister also emphasized on the importance of 'small island states finding common cause’ in the many challenges facing them. The Singapore Minister also praised the Maldives for its democratization mission.
Minister Shahid is in Singapore on a 3-day official trip to Singapore to discuss issues of bilateral significance between the Maldives and Singapore. During the visit, the Minister will also officially launch the official website of the Maldivian High Commission in Singapore.
The call was attended by H.E. Mr Hassan Sobir, High Commissioner of the Maldives to Singapore, H.E. Mr Abdul Azeez Yoosuf, Ambassador at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ibrahim Hood, Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Mr Ali Shujau, Second Secretary at the Maldives High Commission in Singapore.


The Maldives and the Gabonese Republic establishes Diplomatic Relations

21 Mar: The Republic of Maldives and the Gabonese Republic has established Diplomatic Relations. At a ceremony held at the Maldives Mission in New York, the Joint Communiqué formalizing diplomatic relations between the two countries was signed on behalf of the Maldivian Government by His Excellency Mr. Ahmed Khaleel, Permanent Representative of the Maldives to the United Nations and on behalf of the Gabonese Government by His Excellency Mr. Denis Dangue Rewaka, Permanent Representative of the Gabonese Republic to the United Nations.
The ceremony was also attended by Ms. Iruthisham Adam, Counsellor at the Maldives Mission to the UN and Mr. Asheer Abdul Azeez, First secretary at the Maldives Mission to the UN.
Gabonese Republic is the 142nd country to establish diplomatic relations with the Maldives.
The Gabon is located in west central Africa.  The main economy of the country is offshore oil production. Gabon remains heavily reliant on its natural resources. A small population of less than two million speaks French, since its independence from France on August 17, 1960.




 

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