President Abdulla Yameen has accused opposition parties of attempting to foment unrest and sabotage the economy in his address to the nation on the occasion of the 49th Independence Day.
Speaking after a flag-hoisting ceremony at Republic Square last night, Yameen said the government would not allow the country to be plunged back into turmoil while it was enjoying a period of calm and stability.
“Opposition political parties are deliberately trying to disrupt stability by creating a spirit of unrest in society,” he said, adding that incitement of such fervour in the past had repeatedly threatened the country’s independence.
“I do not believe that failing to achieve the love and consent of the public should be a reason to plunge the nation into a deep pit of hatred and strife.”
Opposition parties were pushing for a tourism boycott and attempting to convince fish importers to cease purchasing Maldivian fish in a “deliberate attempt to create distress and anxiety,” Yameen alleged.
He added that “attempts to weaken the country economically” was tantamount to threatening independence.
Yameen also condemned alleged “efforts to create doubts” in the minds of foreign buyers of Maldivian fish and an alleged campaign to boycott tourism.
The current administration would “defeat all efforts to impoverish Maldivian citizens, build a peaceful generation of youth, and go forward in securing prosperity for Maldivians,” he said.
Speaking at a press conference on July 16, Fisheries Minister Dr Mohamed Shainee had accused the Maldivian Democratic Party of attempting to “destroy” the fisheries industry after the main opposition party issued a statement condemning President Yameen’s fisheries policy.
Shainee dismissed the party’s contention that the industry was stagnating and appealed against spreading “false information” to international media, suggesting that the fisheries industry was “too fragile” to be made the subject of adversarial politics.
Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb told Minivan News last month that the government’s “total focus” was on the economy.
“We are not running behind our political opponents and we have stopped political rhetoric now – we have stopped responding to that but we are responding to economic issues,” he said.
President Yameen went on to outline his administration’s development plans, referring to the special economic zone (SEZ) legislation currently before parliament as integral to the government’s economic policy.
An SEZ law would ensure investor confidence, increase foreign direct investment, create job opportunities, and mitigate the dependence on the tourism industry, Yameen explained.
Once the SEZ bill is enacted into law, he continued, one of the first projects to be undertaken would be the Ihavandhippolhu Integrated Development Project.
The ‘iHavan’ project would become “the main gateway” for development and prosperity in the northernmost atolls.
Plans for Addu City includes development of both the Gan international airport and the Hithadhoo regional harbour to spur economic activity, Yameen said.
A ‘mega project’ for development of the southernmost airport was in the pipeline while the government has decided to transfer the regional harbour under the Maldives Ports Limited (MPL) for modernisation, he revealed.
MPL would also take over the regional port in the island of Kulhudhufushi in Haa Dhaal atoll, he added.
The formulation of a master plan for the development of the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) was meanwhile ongoing in collaboration with Singapore’s Changi airport, Yameen noted.
The changes envisioned in the master plan include a new terminal and a new runway, he said.
Moreover, a contract has been awarded for dredging and reclamation of Hulhumalé for development of a ‘youth city‘ in the artificial island as pledged during last year’s presidential election, Yameen said.
He stressed that the government would ensure that development projects would not threaten the country’s independence and sovereignty following criticism of the SEZ bill.
Yameen also revealed that criminal records have been cleared for 3,588 youth since he took office in November, adding that he has asked the newly appointed Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin to introduce a new procedure to not prosecute first time offenders under an agreement signed with offenders.
Last night’s ceremony was meanwhile attended by former presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Dr Mohamed Waheed as well as senior statesmen – Abdul Sattar Moosa Didi and Ibrahim Rasheed – who worked with former President Ibrahim Nasir to secure independence from the British in 1965.