Former presidents Ibrahim Nasir and Maumoon Abdul Gayoom are to receive an honorary shield on the Maldives’ golden jubilee of independence from the British on July 26.
Nasir, who served as the president of the Maldives from 1968 – 1978, is being honored for his role in securing independence for the Maldives. When the independence agreement was signed in 1965, he was prime minister of the Maldives.
Nasir died in exile in Singapore in 2008 at 82 years of age. His body was flown back to Malé where he received a state funeral.
Gayoom, who succeeded Nasir and served as the president from 1978 – 2008, is being honored for his role in maintaining the Maldives’ independence, the president’s office said today. He remains influential in Maldivian politics.
The government is planning to hold grand celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of independence, including a parade by the army and school bands, reopening public parks with water fountains, and an official function at the Usfasgandu area. More than 100 foreign dignitaries are expected to attend.
The government is yet to disclose the full program for the day. Several areas at Male’s waterfront have meanwhile been closed off as the government rushes to complete major renovation projects including a new official jetty and a musical water fountain at the Republic Square before July 26.
Ibrahim Muaz Ali, the spokesperson at the president’s office, said President Abdulla Yameen had asked for updates on preparations at a cabinet meeting today.
“The President requested his minister’s to use all the government’s resources to hold the Independence Day celebrations,” he said.
A budget of MVR150million (US$9.7million) has been allocated for Independence Day activities.
The Supreme Court, the President’s Office, the foreign ministry, the Malé power plant and other government offices have been decked in lights for July 26. Plastic palms have been set up in some areas. Malé’s streets have also been decked in flags.
Deputy minister for home affairs Ahmed ‘Maaz’ Saleem, who is in charge of the organizing the activities, told the press previously that a three-hour play will take place at the national stadium from 9pm to 12pm on the night of July 27.
The play will show different stages of Maldivian history from the Buddhist-era to the present and depict the sacrifices of national heroes to maintain the country’s independence. It will also feature video projections.
The Minivan 50 or independence 50 office has awarded a contract to a British company called The Projection Studio to manage sound, light and projection at the official celebrations.
Some 15 Maldivians have meanwhile undergone a 15-day training session in Addu City for a skydiving event on the night on June 27.
The skydivers will land at the national stadium using special parachutes manufactured with the national flag. The second part of the skydiving training is due to start in Malé today with Malaysian trainers.
Meanwhile, president’s office minister Mohamed Hussain Shareef told the press earlier this week that more than a 1,000 people will attend the official function on July 26, including all Maldivian citizens born on July 26, 1965.
Shareef also dismissed allegations of corruption in the use of the Independence Day budget. The home ministry has received special permission from the finance ministry to award some projects without a bidding process due to lack of time.