President Abdulla Yameen has described Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz as “a leader of exceptional quality and courage” following the monarch’s passing yesterday (January 24) after a lung infection.
“With the King’s passing away, a light on enlightenment in the world has gone. His demise would be a great loss to his people, to the Muslim Ummah, and to the entire world,” said Yameen.
Flags throughout the Maldives national flag will be flown at half mast for three days, while funeral prayers were held for the leader – believed to have been around 90-years-old – yesterday evening.
King Abdulla has been succeeded by his 79-year-old brother Salman bin Abdulaziz, who visited the Maldives in February last year before donating MVR18.4 million (US$ 1.2 million) for 10 new mosques in the islands.
During the trip, the then Prince Salman expressed his desire to assist the Maldivian government to preserve the Islamic identity of the nation, adding that the Arab kingdom sees the Maldives as a country of ‘special importance’.
As part of the government’s policy of enhancing ties with the Arab world, a Saudi delegation of government officials and private businessmen visited the Maldives last month – reportedly after a request made by President Yameen to King Abdullah.
Yameen yesterday praised King Abdullah’s 2002 peace plan for the establishment of the state in Palestine, saying the plan remains the “fundamental document guiding any discussion on the topic”. The plan proposed the normalisation of Israeli-Arab relations in return for full withdrawal from the occupied territories.
“Similarly, the King’s tireless efforts and his personal interests in promoting dialogue and understanding among different cultures and religions are recognized around the world,” said Yameen.
“Most importantly, the King was the architect of several important initiatives in Saudi Arabia, including education and other social sectors. Such changes have inspired several generations to embrace the changes in Saudi Arabia.”
Both former President Mohamed Nasheed and the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party have expressed its sadness at King Abdulla’s death, calling it a loss to both his country and the whole Muslim world.
— Mohamed Nasheed (@MohamedNasheed) January 23, 2015
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