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Maldives News Bulletin, 11-05-2008
Issue No: No.1161

Press Freedom Day marked

4th May: A function was organized by the Ministry of Legal Reform, Information and Arts last night to mark this year's Press Freedom Day.
The function was held at Dharubaaruge, and was attended by a large number of journalists, senior executives from media organizations and foreign dignitaries.
The introductory remarks were made by Ahmed Shiyam, assistant director general at the Ministry. This was followed by a speech from Ahmed Zahir (Hiriga), who took the podium on behalf of the Maldives Media Association.
Three new books on journalism published under the ministry's press forward campaign were also unveiled at last night's function. The books were launched by the guest of honor, President of the Maldives Human Rights Commission, Ahmed Saleem.
While food was being served the podium was made free for the attendees to express their views. A number of journalists made use of this opportunity, as well as minister Nasheed himself, who unofficially announced that the Regulation on the Right to information from State and Government Authorities would be decreed by President Gayoom today.


President decrees freedom of information regulation

4th May: President Gayoom decreed the Regulation on the Right to information from State and Government Authorities yesterday.
The President signed the regulation at a ceremony held at the President's Office.
Even though the regulation has been launched it will not be in effect until next year, but the President assured that government authorities would come in to compliance with the regulations immediately.
Implementation of the regulation was delayed in order to give time for government authorities to bring about the necessary changes in administration the RISGA regulation will require.
Under this regulation, government authorities are obliged to provide any information on record to journalists within 30 days after a request is made, with another 30 days to be granted if there is a failure to provide the information within the first period.
The ceremony was attended by the Minister of Legal Reform, Information and Arts Mohamed Nasheed and Minister at the President's Office, Ms Aneesa Ahmed.


The President Inaugurates the Male’ branch of the Mauritius Commercial Bank

4th May: The President inaugurated the Male’ branch of the Mauritius Commercial Bank. In his opening remarks the President noted that Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) is no doubt a welcome addition to the growing number of foreign banks operating in the Maldives. The President also said that the Maldives and Mauritius enjoy excellent bilateral relations and the opening of this branch would help to further strengthen the relationship between the two countries.
“A recent investment Climate Assessment survey carried out by the World Bank has revealed that the major constraint facing investment in the Maldives is the limited access to the high cost of financing. The Government is confident that the arrival of this fifth foreign commercial bank would contribute to the easing of that constraint and that the country’s economy will attain further strength and vitality”, he added.
Speaking at the ceremony the President noted that there would be an expansion of development banking activities, particularly through greater availability of capital and financing for various development projects in all parts of the country.
The President was presented with a commemorative plaque by the Chief Executive Officer of MCB, Mr. Pierre Guy Noel.
In his welcoming remarks, the President of the Board of Directors of the Mauritius Commercial Bank, Mr. Gerard Hardy, said that the opening of the new Male’ branch of the bank will no doubt reinforce further the strong and trustful relationship which has been developed between the Maldives and MCB Group.  He further said that MCB group is committed to bring in its contribution to the economic development of the Maldives.
The Governor of the Maldives Monetary Authority Mr. Abdulla Jihad in his remarks noted that the banking sector of the Maldives has expanded constantly since the first bank in the country in 1974. Mr. Jihad also highlighted the vast contribution of the banking industry to the development of the Maldives over the 34 years and said that the Industries contribution has been invaluable in the areas of tourism, the country's main growth engine.
After the inauguration ceremony, the President toured the bank and met with the officials. The President also signed the dignitaries’ book.


The President launches, by Presidential Decree, the Regulation on the Right to Information from State and Government Authorities

4th May: The President today launched, by Presidential Decree, the Regulation on the Right to information from State and Government Authorities. He signed this Decree at a ceremony held at the President’s Office this morning. The ceremony was attended by the members of the press corp.
After launching the Regulation, the President extended warm greetings and good wishes on the occasion of world Press Freedom day, and highlighted the significance of introducing the Regulation at this crucial juncture of his reform programme.
He noted the importance of free expression and transparency in implementing media-related reforms. He expressed his confidence the new Regulation would enhance public access to information and identify the crucial role of the Press in providing the public with accurate information from State and Government Authorities. 
He noted that the Regulation would fully enter into force from 1 January 2009, but that authorities would follow the regulations with immediate effect. He also noted the hard work and lengthy discussions that had gone into drafting this Regulation.
Recalling the failure to table the initial Bill on the Right to Freedom of Information, the President announced that a revised Bill that incorporates the views expressed by the People’s Majlis would be submitted to the Majlis in its upcoming session.
He also thanked everyone who had contributed in formulating the new Regulation, in particular the Minister of Legal Reform, Information and Arts, Mr. Mohamed Nasheed.
After the statement, the President took questions on the new Regulation from members of the press corp.
Media representatives present at the ceremony thanked the President for launching the new Regulation.
The ceremony was attended by Minister of Legal Reform, Information and Arts, Mr. Mohamed Nasheed and Minister at the President’s Office, Ms Aneesa Ahmed.


Maldives’ Government Welcomes the UN Fact Finding Team

4th May: The Government today welcomed the United Nations Fact Finding Mission to the country. The Mission, headed by the UN Department of Political Affairs, was dispatched by the Secretary General of the UN on the invitation of the Government of Maldives and will be in the country from 4 to 9 of this month.
During their visit the Mission is scheduled to meet with a range of interlocutors including Government officials, political leaders, civil society, non-governmental organization and other important national actors, as well as diplomatic representatives in order to assess whether UN assistance to the forthcoming elections would be appropriate.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs H. E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid expressed his hope for a constructive and fruitful dialogue and a positive outcome based on the discussions the mission would undertake. “The Government is committed to engaging with our international partners to obtain their expertise for a free and fair election in line with international standards”, said the Minister.
The Mission will submit its visit report to the UN Secretary General.


Visiting World Bank team applauds the fast development achieved under President Gayoom’s leadership

5th May: A visiting delegation of Executive Directors and Alternative Executive Directors of the World Bank has applauded the fast development that the Maldives had achieved during President Gayoom’s leadership. 
In a meeting with the President this morning, the World Bank delegation noted the successes in post-tsunami recovery efforts in the Maldives.  They highlighted the commitment of the Government to achieving the recovery and reconstruction goals as early as possible.  They also spoke on President Gayoom’s leadership role in global climate change diplomacy.
The President emphasized the important role of the World Bank in the social and economic development of the Maldives.  He noted the wholehearted support and assistance of the World Bank in the post-tsunami recovery programme, and thanked the World Bank for its efforts in this endeavour.  He also thanked the members of the high-level delegation for the visit and for the kind sentiments that they had expressed about the Government and people of the Maldives.
The President expressed his deep concern over rising global petroleum prices and its negative impacts on the country’s economy.  He also spoke on the decision to graduate the Maldives from the UN list of LDCs, and noted the importance of good management in achieving the smooth transition from LDC to a middle income developing country.
The meeting was attended by the Minister of Finance and Treasury, Mr. Gasim Ibrahim, the Minister at the President’s Office, Ms Aneesa Ahmed, the Executive Secretary to the President, Dr. Ahmed Shareef and the Deputy Minister at the President’s Office, Dr. Hala Hameed.


The President meets with a UN Fact Finding Mission to assess UN assistance to the Maldives during the upcoming presidential election

5th May: The President today met with a UN Fact Finding Mission to assess UN assistance during the upcoming presidential election.
The President conveyed his appreciation to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for dispatching a Mission to assess UN assistance during the country’s first multiparty presidential election.  He assured the members of the Mission that the Government would extend their firm support and assistance in facilitating the meetings scheduled for the visit.  “We wish to ensure that the Mission can gather all the necessary information to make an informed assessment on UN assistance during the election”, he noted.
The President assured the Mission of the Government’s full commitment to ensuring that the presidential election is free and fair.  He also thanked the UN for its support and assistance throughout the reform process.
The Head of the Mission, Mr. Jahangir Khan thanked the President for meeting with them.  He also thanked the Government for seeking UN assistance and for facilitating the visit of the Fact Finding Mission.  He noted that, after meetings with a range of interlocutors including Government officials, political leaders, civil society, non-governmental organization, other important national actors and diplomatic representatives, the Mission would be submitting its report to the UN Secretary General.
Mr. Khan also noted the promising development of the Maldives in recent decades, and highlighted the decision to graduate the Maldives from LDC status as a vivid example of the country’s progress.
The meeting was attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Abdulla Shahid, the Minister at the President’s Office, Ms Aneesa Ahmed, the Executive Secretary to the President, Dr. Ahmed Shareef and the Deputy Minister at the President’s Office, Mr. Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed.


European Parliament reiterates its support for ongoing political reform process in the Maldives

6th May: The Chargé d’affaires at the Maldives Mission to the European Union, Mr. Ahmed Sareer, today spoke at the European Parliament’s Delegation to the Countries of South Asia. The Delegation, chaired by British MEP Mr. Robert Evans, met to review the draft report into its December 2007 visit to the Maldives during which the MEPs met with H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, Minister for Foreign Affairs, other government dignitaries, representatives of political parties, civil society and the media about ongoing political developments in the country. The report was also presented on behalf of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defense Policy as well as the Committee on Development.
 Mr. Sareer took this opportunity to emphasize the huge amount of work that has been completed, not only in the near completion of the drafting of the new constitution, but the work carried out in a multitude of other areas such as media freedom, legal reforms and the creation of independent bodies within this process.
 In addition he provided the government’s reaction to the draft report and was also able to provide an overview of all of the key milestones that have developed following the 9th June 2004 presentation on constitutional reform by His Excellency, the President of the Maldives, Mr. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. He highlighted, in particular, the governance structure set out in the new constitution for the transition phase.  He mentioned that the Special Majlis had agreed on holding of Presidential elections before 10th October and Parliamentary elections before 31st March 2009.
 Mr. Evans welcomed the remarks made by Mr. Sareer which also noted developments in the Maldives since the Delegation’s visit in December 2007.
 The presentation at the European Parliament was preceded by an individual meeting with the chair, Mr. Evans, in which a more detailed discussion took place on the reform agenda. During the meeting Mr Evans acknowledged that significant developments had taken place since the December visit and expressed support for the process. In addition he noted his continued contact with the European Commissioner for External Relations, Ms Benita Ferrero-Waldner, with a view to obtaining an election observation mission for the Maldives.


Maldives Government brief diplomats on the progress of the Reform Agenda including finalization of the Constitution


6th May: The Government of Maldives today briefed the diplomatic community accredited to Maldives on the progress of the government’s Reform Agenda.  The event, which took place at the Maldives High Commission in Colombo, was attended by 33 diplomats from 26 diplomatic Missions accredited to the Maldives. The event is part of the programme conducted by the Government to share information on the progress of the Reform Agenda with its international partners.
The presentation given by Mr. Mohamed Anil, Commissioner for Law Reform touched on a broad range of issues.  It highlighted the progress of the Reform Agenda in the establishment of a mulit-party system, promotion of human rights, media freedom, strengthening the independence of the judiciary as well as the revision of the constitution which forms the main pillar of the reforms.
Mr Anil noted that the constitution was in the final stages of completion with the recent adoption of the chapter on definitions.  He also touched on the transitional arrangements that had been agreed noting that the establishment of key independent institutions was an important challenge in the preparing for the first ever multi-party elections. The presentation was followed by discussions and clarifications on issues raised by the diplomatic community.  Diplomats congratulated the Government for the significant reform measures and inquired on the main features of the Constitution and the preparations for the upcoming first multi-party elections in the Maldives.
The delegation was headed Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Mr. Abdullah Hameed. H.E Mr. Ali Hussain Didi the High Commissioner of Maldives to Sri Lanka, Mr. Mohamed Anil, the Commissioner for Law Reform and Ms Aishath Liusha Zahir, Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were part of the team.


The new High Commissioner of Australia, New Ambassador of Iceland and the new High Commissioner of Britain presents their credentials to the President


8th May: The new High Commissioner of Australia, Ms Kathy Klugman, the new Ambassador of Iceland to the Maldives, Dr. Gunnar Palsson and the new High Commissioner of Britain, Dr. Peter Hayes presented their credentials to the President today. The three new diplomats presented their credentials in three separate ceremonies held at the President’s Office.
After the presentations, the President met with the three diplomats separately and discussed ways of strengthening bilateral ties between the Maldives and the respective countries. Further, the diplomats noted and applauded the important role that President Gayoom has played in promoting awareness on environmental issues in the global arena. The diplomats also highlighted the President’s achievements in implementing the democratic reform agenda.
The three 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.


SAFF C’Ship 08: Malaysia U23 1 – 1 Maldives, Dhagey's comeback

10th May: Maldives National Team’s friendly against the Malaysian under 23 side has ended in a 1-1 draw. National team managed to win against Selangor by 3-1 and managed a draw against KL Plus.
Ali Ashfaaq (Dhagey) who missed the previous two matches due to an injury,he received during the practices, was included in the first eleven. Ashfaaq got a golden opportunity in the first few minutes of the match, but his strike was superbly saved by the goal keeper, Syed Adney. Amirulhadi of Malaysia also got a golden opportunity to head from the cross by Zaquan Adha. But the header went wide off the goal.
Malaysian side took the lead in the 28th minute, from a long range strike by Khyril Muhyymeen. His strike came off from 25 meters and was deflected off the cross bar before it passed the goal line. Maldives National Team managed to equalise in the extra time of the first half. Ali Ashfaaq took the best out of the mistake by Malaysian defender Bunyamin Omar.
Mohamed Shukuru Adan of Malaysia was shown red card following two yellows in the game. His red card came from a foul against Sobah.
According to National team’s manager - Mohamed Hanim, coach used all the players except Ali Umar and Shamveel Ghasim (Bonda).
He also said that the team was too slow in the first half, but played much better in the latter half.
Hanim also reaffirmed that based on the information they received, the Malaysian side is their senior team. However, the Malaysian media reports the team as their Under 23 side preparing for the Intercontinental cup which is scheduled to be held in Malaysia from May 15-25.
In all the friendlies played in the Malaysian tour, the opponents scored the first goal and Maldives side had to work hard to come from behind.


Foreign Minister delivers letter from President Gayoom to the Saudi King

10th May: The Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr Abdulla Shahid has delivered a letter from H. E. Mr. Maumoon Abdula Gayoom, President of the Republic of Maldives addressed to King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.Minister Shahid handed over the letter today during a meeting with his Saudi counterpart, His Royal Highness Prince Saud Al-Faisal bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud.
During the meeting, the two Ministers discussed the close brotherly relations between the two countries and ways of further strengthening the close ties between the Maldives and Saudi Arabia. The two Ministers also discussed the issue of rising prices of oil and food in the global market. Foreign Minister Shahid stated that this posed serious concern for a country like the Maldives which imports all its food products from other countries and requested for Saudi assistance in addressing this issue.
Continuing the discussion, Minister Shahid noted the increase in the number of Maldivians travelling to Saudi Arabia to perform hajj every year and requested for an increase in the annual quota given to the Maldives. He also thanked the Government of Saudi Arabia for the generous assistance given to the Maldives, including the assistance for the upgrading of the Male’ Internal Airport and the post-tsunami reconstruction assistance.
At the meeting, Saudi Foreign Minister assured that the Government of Saudi Arabia will continue its assistance to the Maldives. He noted that like the Maldives, Saudi Arabia attaches great importance to the issue of global warming and climate change.
He briefed Foreign Minister Shahid on the special fund created by the Saudi King for the purpose of special research on energy, environment and climate change. The  two Ministers also discussed ways of consolidating cooperation on international issues of mutual concern.
The meeting was attended the meeting H. E. Mr. Hussain Shihab, Ambassador of  Maldives to Saudi Arabia, H.E. Mr. Mohamed Shareef, Ambassador-at-large and Mr. Ahmed Rasheed, Chief of Protocol of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also.
Minister Shahid is currently on a 3-day visit to Saudi Arabia to deliver a letter from President Gayoom to the Saudi King. During the visit, Minister Shahid will officially open the Embassy of Maldives in Saudi Arabia.


The President says that it is our responsibility to raise children to be religious, patriotic and resourceful individuals


10th May: The President today said that it is our responsibility to raise children to be religious, patriotic and resourceful individuals. Speaking with the people of North Miladhunmadulu Atoll Milandhoo, the President extended his well wishes to the children on the occasion of Children’s Day.
He also extended Family Day greetings to all the families of Maldives.
The President said that the citizens of Milandhoo were talented and capable people and noted their widespread services in the construction business.
In his speech, the President stressed the importance of protecting and preserving our fragile environment and highlighted the work of the Government in raising global awareness on this issue.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Senior Island Chief, Mr. Ahmed Shiham said that the people of Maakandoodhoo who had moved to Milandhoo had achieved a lot of progress and that the services extended to the people had expanded greatly.
The President and the First Lady were warmly greeted upon their arrival at Milandhoo by the officials of the island, members of the general public and members of different committees. The students of Milandhoo School presented a welcome song.
During their visit to Milandhoo, the President and the First Lady personally met with the people of the island and enquired about their well-being.

The President and the First Lady participates in the “Family Evening”


10th May: The President and the First Lady this evening inaugurated and participated in the “Family Evening” held in North Miladhunmadulu Funadhoo to celebrate Children’s Day and International Family Day.
The President and the First Lady were greeted upon arrival at Funadhoo by the Minister of Gender and Family, Ms. Aishath Mohamed Didi, officials of various ministries and members of the general public.
The colourful event was held at Funadhoo School. The President and the First Lady visited various stalls and observed different activities and stage items. They also met with the children participating in the event and their families to extend well-wishes of Children’s Day and Family Day.
The President sent Children’s Day greetings to all the children of Maldives in an exclusive interview given to Television Maldives in Funadhoo.



 

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