Home minister claims 100,000 participated in independence parade

Home minister Umar Naseer has claimed that more than 100,000 students and teachers participated in a parade held yesterday to celebrate the upcoming golden jubilee of independence.

Naseer’s claim was met with skepticism on social media as the number of students in government, community and private schools in the Maldives is 86,799, according to official figures.

Thousands of students, teachers and parents across the country joined the parade on Saturday in what the home ministry said was the “biggest event” held so far with the participation of students.

Students from the atolls marched on the main street of their island while the parade took place on Majeedhee Magu and Ameenee Magu in Malé.

“We can say with a lot of certainty that over 100,000 students participated in the event,” said home ministry’s media coordinator Thazmeel Abdul Samad.

Social media users have questioned the accuracy of the figure, with one user calling the claim a “joke.”

The parade in the capital started from the Maafannu stadium, went through the city’s main thoroughfare, and ended back at the stadium.

Home minister Naseer, foreign minister Dunya Maumoon, education minister Dr Aishath Shiham, and other high-ranking officials took part in the parade, wearing national colours.

The parade concluded with a skydiving event at the Maafanu stadium with the four foreign skydivers signing autographs and taking photos with participants.

The skydivers are due to conduct a training exercise for 15 locals for a skydiving event planned as part of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of independence on July 26.

Other events planned by the home ministry to mark the golden jubilee include a swimming competition, a sea sports festival, a world record attempt, float parades, an international football tournament, a police tournament, several music shows and the unveiling of the new currency design.

The government has also started decorating the streets of Malé with national flags and sacrificed 150 goats in a public ceremony in April.

The Independence Day celebrations have drawn criticism over the lack of transparency of expenses made out of the state budget. However, the ‘Independence 50’ office under the home ministry has said that most of the work is done by volunteers.

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Thousands rally in Male’ for MDP’s eighth anniversary and carnival parade

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) celebrated their eighth anniversary with thousands of people participating in last night’s march and spectators lining the streets of the capital.

The excitement was palpable as thousands came out of their neighborhoods, crammed the sidewalks and climbed on top of any available structures to watch the parade spectacle and take photos. Countless people were seen waving and shouting from their windows and balconies as the anniversary parade circled around Male’.

MDP has claimed upwards of 15,000 parade participants – some social media estimates were upwards of 20,000 – took part in the event. Minivan News observed the protest parade stretching the entire length and width of the nearly two kilometre long thoroughfare of Majeedhee Magu.

Protesters represented a variety of demographics including children, youth, the elderly, disabled, women and men, organised into groups, some carrying giant MDP flags, while others waved yellow ribbons, fans or pom poms.

Groups of women were twirling yellow umbrellas adorned with frangipani flowers (the party’s symbol) or carrying signs with the slogan ‘ehburun’ (meaning a one round victory). Some young men played volleyball while others in the parade drummed a festive beat.

Women and men alike were shaking yellow pom-poms and dancing in the streets to music remixing dance beats with phrases from former President Mohamed Nasheed’s speeches.

The Dhivehi lyrics translated to “MDP is a ship for all seas, This party is not going to sink, We will not fade away, You can arrest us, jail us and kill us but MDP’s ‘fikuru’ (ideology) can no longer be eradicated/wiped out from the Maldives”.

Countless parade participants, including port workers, were also adorned with yellow construction hats, while two young men wore milk and banana costumes in recognition of a previous Nasheed speech in which he discussed the importance of child nutrition, and pledged to ensure every school child had a suitable breakfast.

There were constant chants of ‘ehburun’ by the parade participants and crowds lining the main thoroughfares of Male’ that comprised the parade route. The parade ended at ‘Usfasgandu’, MDP’s protest area located near the Tsunami Monument, where applause and shouts from thousands of supporters could be heard echoing through the streets as members cut the party’s birthday cake.

Introducing multi-party democracy

“The MDP was the first political party to be registered eight years ago – we are the largest and oldest party – and we are built on people’s hopes,” MDP’s Youth Wing President Aminath Shauna told Minivan News.

“We wanted to celebrate that and show the people’s strength, which we definitely saw last night. The parade was a way to show that while we are a political party committed to political reform and social change, we can still have fun,” said Shauna.

“We wanted to make it very colorful and an opportunity for all kinds of people to participate, and they did, children, youths, mothers and fathers, as well as elderly MDP supporters, the parade had activities for everyone,” she continued.

“There hasn’t been an event like this – not at night with all the lights and music – since MDP’s February 17, 2012 rally, and that was more of a spontaneous protest,” she explained.

“The MDP has consistently had large numbers of people’s support and participation, but this event was by far the most comprehensive.”

“There was not a single spot empty on the sidewalks and people were cheering and waving from their windows and balconies. At least 15,000 people were out in support of the parade in Male’ alone,” she claimed.

“I have not seen that many people come out and even watch Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) parades on Majeedhee Magu. There is a huge strong base of support in the islands as well, even in the UK Maldivians living abroad celebrated, social media is showing the quite broad spectrum of MDP supporters,” said Shauna.

“This event was significant because MDP is so young. I don’t think any country would see a ‘people’s party’ come out of nowhere – based on sheer public support – and be able to maintain a peaceful stance after so much brutality and injustice,” MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Minivan News.

“It’s also significant that MDP’s eighth birthday coincides with the [upcoming] elections.”

“On MDP’s eighth birthday what we are seeing is unprecedented. After eight years we are still completely the ‘people’s party’, which we’ve seen from the amount of public support,” Ghafoor continued.

“People came out all over the country to celebrate, even on small islands in the most unlikely places they had [MDP birthday] cakes and meetings, it’s incredible,” he said.

Former President Nasheed meanwhile tweeted on the occasion,

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MNDF hosting Pakistani Naval vessel ahead of diplomatic meetings

The Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF) has said it continues to promote “good relations” with its neighbours as this week it plays host to a Pakistani naval ship visiting the Maldives.

The vessel – known as the PNS Saif – arrived in the Male’ yesterday (April 15), where it presently remains docked.  The ship’s arrival follows the visit last week of two Indian naval vessels.

MNDF Spokesperson Colonel Abdul Raheem told Minivan News today (April 16) that there was no significance behind the recent back-to-back visits of the Pakistani and Indian Naval forces.

“The Maldives has good relations with all neighbouring countries, including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh,” he said.  “Neighbouring countries’ ships visit often, it is normal.”

The Pakistani High Commissioner to the Maldives, Pakistani citizens living in the Maldives, as well as senior officials from the military and Maldives Police Service are scheduled to visit the naval ship today, according to the MNDF.

The PNF Saif’s commanding officer will then host a “special dinner” on the ship this evening.

A series of other diplomatic meetings and events are scheduled during the ship’s visit, including a special event hosted by the MNDF for Pakistani naval officers tomorrow (April 17).  This is scheduled to be followed by a luncheon hosted by the Pakistani High Commissioner.

Senior PNS Saif officers are also scheduled to meet Minister of State for Defence and National Security Mohamed Muizzu Adnan, Chief of Defence Force Major General Ahmed Shiyam, as well as Commandant Coast Guard Brigadier General Ahmed Shahid.

The ship will remain in the Maldives until April 18.

Indian defence collaboration

Meanwhile, India has assured the Maldives of its commitment to “further enhance defense cooperation and security partnership,” following talks between Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim and his Indian counterpart A K Antony on Monday (April 15), the Times of India has reported.

Enhanced defence cooperation between the two nations is expected to include training exercises, capacity building and infrastructure-strengthening, according to media reports.

The Maldives hosted two Indian Naval Ships – the ICGS Varuna and INS Sujata – representing the First Training Squadron last week.

During the “goodwill visit”, a dinner function was held aboard the ships, where new Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives, Rajeev Shahare, made his first public appearance after assuming the post.

The dinner event was attended by the Maldivian Defence Minister Colonel (Rtd) Mohamed Nazim, other government ministers, diplomats, and high ranking officers from the Maldives military. The Indian government gave the Maldivian government a “contribution”, spare helicopter parts, and gym equipment, reported local media.

Shahare also used the event to praise Maldivian authorities for their “magnanimity” in allowing him to meet senior government officials at this event prior to presenting his credentials to the president, while speaking with local media April 10.

MNDF anniversary

The MNDF has said it is also currently preparing celebrations for its 121st anniversary on April 21 with a “big ceremony” that will include two different events held in the nation’s capital Male’, Colonel Raheem told Minivan News.

A parade is scheduled to take place at 4pm near the tsunami monument in the Henveiru neighborhood of Male’, said Raheem.

An “official gathering, which normally includes all high level delegations” in the Maldives is also being planned for April 25.

As practice for the parade, a military band and MNDF soldiers carrying assorted firearms have been performing early morning marches in formation through Henveiru this week.

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MNDF marks ‘Victory Day’ with special ceremony, unveiling of memorial monument

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) marked ‘Victory Day’ with a special ceremony, a parade, the unveiling of a new monument and a silent drill on Friday (November 2).

The special ceremony commemorated the events of November 3, 1988 – when an attempted coup by Sri Lankan mercenaries led by a group of Maldivians was foiled with Indian military assistance .

As part of the event, a memorial monument at the southwestern side of Bandaara Koshi, the main military headquarters, was unveiled by President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.

The southwestern corner of the military headquarters was blown up during the attack in the early hours of November 3, 1988.

The ceremony meanwhile included the screening of an animated video showing the attack on the military headquarters, a seven-gun salute, 30 seconds of silence in memorial of the fallen, a performance by the military’s ‘Pipe’ band and the launching of a book about the 1988 coup.

Military officers performed a silent drill after the ceremony.

In his address at the ceremony, Chief of Defence Forces Major General Ahmed Shiyam said that although the Maldives might not come under military attack in modern times, the “effects of ideological attacks to poison the minds of our youth and destroy our nationhood are evident all around us.”

A parade meanwhile took place across the capital this morning following dawn prayers in a large congregation of military officers.

MNDF Captain Hussain Ali told newspaper Haveeru on Thursday that an event at the Republic Square including fireworks that had originally been planned for tonight was now postponed until after November 12 due to adverse weather.

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Independence Day celebrations: Nasheed vows to continue fight against corruption

The Maldives celebrated its 45th Independence Day on July 26th and 27th.

Following a special prayer conducted after the dawn prayer, President Mohamed Nasheed inaugurated and launched different government offices and institutions in Male’.

Flag Hoisting Ceremony

Following the dawn prayer, a flag hoisting ceremony was held at Jumhoory Maidhaan where the large national flag is located. Students at senior posts of different schools, the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and police attended the ceremony.

Addressing the nation, President Nasheed promised to fulfill the mandate given him by the people to consolidate democracy and create the foundations of good governance in the Maldives.

Nasheed said the government would remain resolute in freeing the country from “the bondage of corruption”.

“As the flag of independence flies high, it is a greater national duty to free the country from suspicions in the hearts of the people that bribery and corruption have taken root in the legislature and the judiciary,” he said.

“Unlike previous regime changes, the replacement of government in 2008 did not completely end the power of those connected to the previous regime,” Nasheed said.

The same officials who worked in the previous regime remain active in the executive, courts, and other institutions, he said.

“If [after the presidential elections in 2008] any change came to the bond that existed between the previous leadership and the executive and the judicial branches over those 30 long years, such change was only small,” Nasheed said.

He said he did not want to accept that the government’s power lay in the use the force: “of guns, shackles, and the pillory.”

“The government’s power that we believe in is that of serving the people,” said the President.

Describing the reasons for the current political impasse, the President said “because of the restraint shown…against the influence from officials of previous government, their hopes for coming back to power have flared up.”

“As their pace to come back to power quickened, the constitutional framework was becoming unsettled, disrupting the provision of basic services to the people.”

The President said that to find a long term solution to the political impasse, it was essential to strengthen the constitution as it presently “does not allow an effective presidential system.”

“To my mind, if we want to find a [long term] solution to the current problems, we must amend some articles in the constitution.”

The President reiterated that he was “ready to give way for any elections required in order to bring about those amendments.”

“At no point will I hesitate to face the people and learn what they desire.”

Velaanage inauguration

State Dignitary Ibrahim Rasheed inaugurated Velaanaage, the office complex built on the housing compound of the residence of the Velaanaage family who had rendered invaluable services to the Maldives.

Ibrahim Nasir, the first President of the Second Republic of the Maldives, lived in Velaanaage.

Ibrahim Rasheed addressing the people, said the Maldives continue to receive the valuable services from members of Velaanaage family.

At the ceremony, President Mohamed Nasheed donated a historic shield to President Nasir’s Memorial Room in Velaanaage. The shield was sent to President Ibrahim Nasir on his inauguration as the first President of the Second Republic of the Maldives in November 1968 by President Lyndon B. Johnson of USA.

Fifteen years ago, President Nasir gave the shield to his youngest son Ismail Nasir, who later presented it to President Nasheed. He also spoke on the importance of the Memorial Room which will display manuscripts and some other memorabilia belonging to President Nasir and his family.

In his remarks at the ceremony, President Nasheed said the Velaanaage family was one of the oldest families in the Maldives.

Inauguration of Iskandhar Building

Vice president Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik inaugurated the Maldives Police Service Iskandharu Building, a building to house the police forensic department and containing modern technologies for the forensic investigation of crimes.

Dr Waheed said that ensuring the rule of law and protecting the rights of the people were the primary duties of police.

He said that while the key to people’s happiness and society’s strength lay in their confidence in justice and the rule of law and justice, it was a responsibility of police to ensure the rule of law in the country.

In his remarks at the ceremony held at Iskandharu Koshi, to inaugurate the building, Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh said the building would ease the difficulties faced by lack of space and thus help improve the quality of services to the people.

Inauguration of National Museum

President Mohamed Nasheed inaugurated the new National Museum, which was built with the assistance of the Chinese government’s aid program, ‘China Aid’.

Speaking at the ceremony, Nasheed said the Maldives has a long history, with a written history of more than 1,000 years.

Nasheed said the lessons from history “teach us to respect and uphold human rights.” He said that Maldivians, today, would no longer tolerate any form of abuse or torture.

He thanked everyone involved in the Museum project.

“I would especially like to thank Chinese President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, the government and the people of China,” he said.

Parade and Guard of Honor

President Mohamed Nasheed and Madam Laila Ali attended a parade and route march held to celebrate the Independence Day.

Upon their arrival at Jumhooree Maidhaan, the President and the First Lady were greeted by Minister of Home Affairs Mohamed Shihab and his wife Aminath Shimla.

The President was received a Presidential Salute, after which the brass band of the MNDF played the National Anthem. The Armed Forces Guard then trooped past the Presidential Stand.

Music Show

In the celebration of the independence day a music show was held at the main stage at Alimas Carnival in Male. Famous actor ‘Chilhiya’ Moosa Manik presented the show. Old traditional songs were performed at the show by different artists. More than 50 people attended to watch the show.

A special function by the President and First lady was held at Dharubaaruge last night. Senior government officials, independent commissions and diplomats attended the function.

Rain cancelled other events

On July 27, other events scheduled for Independence Day were cancelled due to bad weather. The parade of the Maldives National Cadet Corps and bands of students scheduled to be held yesterday evening were also cancelled, along with the other events.

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