President Dr Mohamed Waheed has criticised unspecified groups that are calling for a boycott of the Maldives’ tourism industry, expressing concern that it is the largest source of income for the nation.
According to the President’s Office website, his comments were made during a visit to the island of Neykurendhoo as part of a wider tour of South Thiladhummathi Atoll ahead of elections scheduled for September this year.
The president raised the concern on the back of over two million people signing a petition on the Avaaz website pledging to target the Maldives’ lucrative tourism industry in order to pressure authorities to drop the charges against a 15 year-old convicted of fornication, and to pursue wider legal reforms to prevent similar cases.
Minivan News understands that officials from Avaaz had visited the Maldives last week to meet with government officials and research the case.
Meanwhile, NGO Amnesty International last month raised concerns that minor’s handling by authorities was the “tip of the iceberg” in terms of the country’s treatment of victims of sexual offences
President Waheed told islanders on Neykurendhoo yesterday (May 3) that he didn’t believe “defaming” a country was the best way to ensure development of a nation, while also condemning the “efforts of a minority of people attempting to create animosity and hatred between families and societies”.
The president added that no matter how well developed any country was, all nations faced political and social problems that needed to be addressed, he therefore criticised any attempts to use such “shortcomings” as a means to back a boycott campaign.
President Waheed also used the visit to lay the foundation stone of the Neykurendhoo Friday Mosque on the island, while also promising wider infrastructural development to provide improved sewerage and water systems expected to be established in the near future.
The new mosque is being built with the assistance of Saudia Arabia, according to the President’s Office.