Gan hosts international storm research team

The Maldives will host the first in-depth study of equatorial tropical storms between the Maldives and Papua New Guinea, conducted by two dozen research organisations from 16 countries and based on Gan in Addu Atoll.

The team will use airplanes, ships, radars, and approximately 1,500 weather balloons to study the birth, life and death of tropical storms along the equator, particularly the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO). These storms affect weather world wide.

Maldives Meteorology Services (MMS) are local sponsors of the project, which was designed by the US Energy Department’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) climate research facility. MMS is providing local weather knowledge, meeting and operations space, and facilities; researchers in turn will offer training on radar and other instrumentation to local meteorologists.

According to the ARM facility, MJO dominates “tropical intraseasonal variability” but few climate models are able to predicts its effects. “AMIE-Gan will measure the area where the MJO begins its eastward propagation, observing the atmosphere, ocean, and air-sea interface,” the facility states.

The MJO affects regional weather patterns such as the Asian and Australian monsoons. Initiating every 30 to 90 days, it can also contribute to hurricane activity in the northeast Pacific and Gulf of Mexico, as well as trigger torrential rainfall along North America’s west coast.

MJO can also affect the periodic warming of the Pacific Ocean known as El Nino, which disturbs rain patterns.

MMS Deputy Director General Ali Sharif said the Maldives was strategically chosen.

“The Maldives was selected because the team is looking for the weather phenomenon Madden-Julian Oscillation. The team chose Addu because it is the closest location to the equator in the Maldives.”

The project’s main observation sites will be based in the Maldives, Diego Garcia, the maritime continent, and Manu Island. The Maldives’ Super Site with a majority of radar equipment will be at Gan, and research ships and aircraft will operate in the Indian Ocean as well.

Radar and other equipment have been set up along an 8 kilometre path in the atoll. A meteorological array will use seven different frequencies to scan clouds and precipitation from the Super Site at Gan.

Results gathered at Gan under the AMIE-Gan project will complement results gathered at Manus under the AMIE-Manus project to “allow studies of the initiation, propagation, and evolution of convective clouds within the framework of the MJO,” ARM states.

Sharif said the project could add valuable knowledge to regional climate change.

“It is becoming more important  to understand how oceans regulate the earth’s temperature.” Sharif added that the Maldives temperatures have seen a minor “rising trend.”

The AMIE project is operating under the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), a facility of the U. S. Department of Energy. AMIE team leader Chuck Long said conditions in the Indian Ocean remain relatively mysterious.

“The MJO fires up primarily in the Indian Ocean during winter in the northern hemisphere, covering an area several thousand kilometers across. It moves eastward and when it hits the maritime continent — all those islands in Southeast Asia, it weakens. Why?” asked Long. “And why does it initiate in the Indian, not in the equatorial Atlantic or Pacific? What is so special about the conditions in the Indian Ocean? These are some of the questions we must answer to understand the MJO and represent it in forecast and climate models.”

AMIE will be working with two other research collaborations during this Indian Ocean campaign, Dynamics of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (DYNAMO) and Cooperative Indian Ocean Experiment on Intraseasonal Variability in the Year 2011 (CINDY). DYNAMO’s team is being led by the University of Miami. CINDY is an overarching international effort and is being led by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology.

Research staff and/or facilities have been contributed by Australia, China, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, South Korea, Maldives, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. US scientists, students, engineers, and staff from 16 universities and 11 national laboratories and centers are participating in the field campaign.

The investigation experiment (AMIE) is scheduled to start in October and run through March 2012. Opening ceremonies on October 8 will celebrate the international cooperation behind the project, which PNNL said will lead to a better understanding of Earth’s climate.


Man arrested with 83 packets of illegal drugs

Police have arrested a man with 83 packets of suspected narcotics in a special operation conducted on Addu City.

Police reported that the man arrested was 30 year old.

According to police 11 packets were found with him and the rest of the packets were found inside his room.

Gan police station is investigating the case, police reported.


The price of healthcare in the south

A team of retired Royal Air Force personnel are trying to raise money to help a small community in the Indian Ocean gain access to the vital healthcare they need to subsist. Inspired by this group’s determination to help this impoverished community in the Maldives – a land oft-associated with luxury – Donna Richardson travelled to the Addu region to uncover the real state of medical care on an island that used to enjoy free, first class medical care while the island was a Cold War staging post.

Because of its geography, it is easy to cover up the poverty-stricken side of the Maldives’s inhabited islands. The Maldives is seen as a luxury holiday resort destination, but in fact there is hardly a place where the contrasts between rich and poor are so pronounced. While millionaires sup their cocktails, the indigenous peoples barely scrape by on a dollar a day and many are priced out of the most basic medical care because of the rising cost of health.

The RAF have long left Addu Atoll (‘RAF Gan‘) in the Maldives where they were stationed during the 1970s, but for some servicemen such as Richard Houlston and Larry Dodds, Addu has remained close to his heart. Upon returning to the island during a memorial visit last March, he saw first hand how locals are suffering and denied access to even the most basic of medical care. He decided to see how he can help a community which he loves dearly. Along with a former colleague Phillip Small, they have been trying to establish a Gan Medical Fund to help to raise awareness of the issues the island faces, provide medical equipment, and eventually if there is enough funding when it takes off, to train the future generation of doctors.

When British Forces left the region, the hospital as well as the expertise and knowledge also vanished (allegedly the equipment all moved to Male), and with the establishment of a dictatorial government regime, Addu stepped ten steps back in terms of their medical facilities.

Based in the south of the country, Hithadhoo Regional Hospital (HRH) is the main public provincial health care facility providing curative public health services and is the only government hospital in the province. The hospital is located in the capital of the south atoll, in the furthest corner of Addu Atoll, and covers seven districts over two atolls. It serves 50,000 patients, including the inhabited islands of Hulhumeedhu and Fuvahmulah, but has only 50 beds.

Lack of funding, limited expertise and treatment for only those who can afford it – this is the picture of government health in Addu, but things are improving, according to the new director of the recently-formed Southern Healthcare Corporation Hussein Rasheed.

“The biggest challenges are most of all the lack of equipment, then patient load, then the quality of doctors, but we are changing things,” Hussein Rasheed said.

Now run under the 100 percent government-shared trust, the hospital also hopes to leverage revenue from the new national health insurance schemes to cover its costs and to help raise vital cash for the departments.

For some years now medical facilities for those living in Addu Atoll and its far-flung neighbour, Fuvahmulah, in Nyaviyani Atoll have been overstretched and in short supply. Many of the problems are hereditary. The aging 26-year-old hospital building is a relic of the Gayoom regime. It is in bad shape, with crumbling walls, unstable voltage, barely enough beds and no air-conditioning. Post operative patients swelter in temperatures akin to a sauna and the hospital is in desperate need of improvement. There are plans to build a new 100-bed hospital with a government loan and charity funding, but it will take a year to secure the funding and then to find a site.

Due to its previous funding constraints, HRH is currently understaffed and runs more like a general surgery practice found in most developed countries. Although it does have practically all the departments required to make it a hospital, most areas are understaffed and in need of vital equipment from donors and charities. As a public hospital it is appealing to charities and non governmental organisations to help it to serve its community and restore public confidence in its services.

At present there is still not enough basic equipment for the hospital to function. It was not even able to provide basic X-rays at the time we visited. Since the last one blew up due to faulty voltage in the building, a new X-ray machine was purchased but has stood in a box because of the risk of damaging the new equipment.

While HRH does have basic outpatient clinics including dental, ear nose and throat (ENT), gynecology, internal medicine, ophthalmology, orthopedics, paediatrics, reproductive health, diagnostics imaging services, and ultrasound scanning and physiotherapy services, there are not enough specialists to staff these departments or the right equipment to provide full services under these remits.

Previously most equipment was donated by NGOs and charities such as World Health Organisation, United Nations Children’s Fund, JICA and the Japanese as well as the Chinese and Australian governments. They have pledged to continue to work with the Ministry of Health and Family to procure equipment.

But the hospital urgently needs a CT scanner, MRI machine and incubators plus vital surgical instruments such a chest stapler and cannulas for performing tracheotomies. Each and every department needs more equipment.

Two rusty ambulances sit grounded on the parking lot. All gifted by various NGOs and nations, these vehicles need parts which are unavailable in the Maldives. One is a Japanese vehicle donated by the Japan Council of International Schools (JCIS) which requires expensive parts, and the other is a converted minibus with the seats relaxed to make room for stretchers.

Two more vehicles sit rusting in the garage. While these are in better shape they need parts and technicians to service them. The only functioning ambulance is an old ‘green goddess’ type vehicle gifted by the Australian government, which is used infrequently.

The Casualty and Accident and Emergency unit has just two beds. A serious road traffic victim was brought here just last week had to be transported to Male’ by Maldivian Air Taxi at his own cost. In cases such as this, if there are no seats, or medical insurance does not cover the patient, they simply cannot receive the vital care they need. It becomes a ‘pay and display’ system of healthcare.

Even the labour suite is ill-equipped for delivering babies. One small baby was fighting for his life in intensive care at the time of visiting. The infant’s parents said they could not afford the transportation to give birth in Male‘. The hospital urgently needs an incubator and does not even have a paediatric ventilator to aid distressed infants.

While the hospital does have an operating theatre with one operating room there are no specialist surgeons to perform vital operations and just two general surgeons.

Collectively this means that the hospital is unable to function to full capacity and the public is losing confidence in the medical care available in the atoll. While there is a surgical theatre, there are only two qualified general surgeons whose knowledge extends only to hernias and small operations.

These conditions and the need for basic equipment are urgent issues and the hospital is appealing for outside help and funding to solve these shortages.

A question of confidence

Another challenge the hospital faces isthe need to restore public confidence in its services. Facing huge waiting lists, patients with serious health conditions opt to travel to Male’ or India for treatment if they can afford it, and the hospital stays stuck in a rut. Yet these ‘health tourists’ face great perils amidst cases of organ trafficking and alleged substandard treatment in southern India.

A young girl from Hithadhoo told us how her family were forced to sell their car and personal possessions to pay for her mother to go to India for a leg operation. Her brother also has eye problems and needs to attend regular eye clinics, which the hospital does not yet have, although there are plans to introduce under the Madhana health scheme.

“My mother suffers from arthritis and rheumatism and needed to go to India for treatment,” she said.

“She was very ill and needed treatment and we have lost faith in the hospital here in Hithadhoo so we decided to go to India where the treatment is better value for money.”

Travelling for medical treatments is a costly business. Patients must pay for the airfare, accommodation and treatment, but people believe that the care they receive overseas is better and so the cycle of health tourism continues.

One of the ways that Hithadhoo Regional Hospital wants to counter this health tourism is to introduce ‘telemedicine’, whereby customers can be confident that their results will be seen by qualified medical specialists from around the world, and also to introduce visiting surgeons and hold specialist surgery days.

Rasheed admitted: “People are not happy with the level of care. Right now we don’t meet the basic requirements so many people decide to go to Male’ for treatment and when they don’t see any difference in services, they go to India.”

He warned of the dangers of travelling abroad to India for treatment. The practice of medical tourism there is not regulated and patients organise the travel plans themselves.

“While there are many good quality doctors in India, there are also huge problems with cheating in India, particularly in the south,” he said. “Someone recently went to India for surgery and ended up having a kidney removed. Health tourism is a very risky business,” he added.

Another patient told how his father in-law has been regularly travelling to India to receive palliative care for lung cancer. Put simply, there is no care of this type available in the Maldives.

Until now talk of cancer has been taboo, although cancer and heart disease are some of the biggest killers in the Maldives. But with no oncology or cardio department, or even an ECG machine, many people are forced to travel farther afield to receive treatment. In the past, limited information has been available about preventative measures so many people die earlier than they should.

There is no palliative care in the islands and only limited care for cancer patients even in Male’, and no facilities to perform open heart surgery or brain surgery.

Rasheed himself is interested in studying more about cancer and its causes to help to inspire health promotion campaigns and attract more doctors to the region.

In its favour, HRH does have an ISO-certified laboratory which is fairly advanced and offers some patient services including intensive care units and neonatal intensive care departments.

The hospital is also working on its health promotion,  including child immunisation and growth monitoring, vector control, food hygiene and sanitation, disease surveillances and epidemic control, family planning, sexual transmitted disease clinic and turboculosis and leprosy control.

The hospitals’ three-year plan includes building a new hospital within a year, improving services in all areas, focusing on preventative health and education and introducing exchange programmes for doctors to visit the hospital and to partner with the private hospital in the region.

Rasheed said he has removed some of the ‘dead wood’ and de-motivated staff from HRH and replaced them with more high-energy staff. He hopes to turn the hospital’s reputation around in three years.

“When I took over the hospital here, we inherited a bad system, de-motivated staff and dated equipment,” he said. “In the past the doctors here were neglecting the needs of the patients. They knew they could do operations, but they were so de-motivated that they decided they could not do it and on many occasions we sent patients away,” he revealed.

These conditions and the need for basic equipment are urgent issues and the hospital is appealing for outside help and funding to solve these shortages.

There is also a need to distribute medicines for psychiatric patients, improving antenatal care and introducing an electronic record keeping system. At present patients with mental health issues are being released into the community without proper care and attention.

In addition, some elderly patients who have been abandoned by their families have taken up residence in the hospital.

However, things are starting to improve at the hospital after a change of management. Over the last three months since taking over the hospital trust, Rasheed has been making major strategic changes. In part this is due to a government reorganisation, which has placed all Maldivian hospitals under a new structure – which will operate more like a business, taking fees and charges from patients covered by the health insurance system.

“In the last couple of months we have managed to improve the level of confidence – for example, allocated a special day for general surgery where we have seen a couple of hernia patients, and we have been getting some good feedback. News spreads through word of mouth here,” he added.

With a limited budget to hire qualified doctors, the hospital is considering hiring visiting practitioners and surgeons. They are also appealing for the humanitarian services of voluntary, retired or semi-retired surgeons and specialist doctors to spend some time at the hospital in exchange for free accommodation, air fare and a share of commission from the profits gained from the operations they perform.

In the last month, the hospital hired a new Maldivian surgeon, a former classmate of Rasheed, who has performed basic operations. Just the other week they performed two hernia operations and feedback from the local community has been quite positive, according to Rasheed.

The two surgeons, Dr Fuammi Moustaffa and Abdulla Adsa, admitted that they were limited to small cases because of lack of equipment. Their remit includes appendicitis, hernia operations, cyst and gall bladder removal.
“We want to do more, but we don’t have the equipment or the specialists to perform other operations,” admitted Dr Moustaffa.

In January, the Israeli Eyes from Zion charity visited the hospital and removed cataracts from patients. There are plans for more visiting practitioners over the next few months.

Due to increasing demand for tertiary services in the provinces, with more funding it is planned to develop a specialised service centre for trauma treatment and the development of their service portfolio, as well as to improve provision of quality health care services.

The areas that they want to focus on include advanced diagnostic services such as MRI, telemedicine and treatment of kidney/renal conditions (including dialysis services) and establishing a provincial Emergency Medical Service (EMS) to international standards.

The hospital needs full time paramedics, fully-fledged ambulances, development of intensive care services and the development of a provincial medical emergency coordination centre.

Meanwhile, there is a private hospital called IDMC (run by the Simdi group) aimed at paying customers and those under the Madhana health scheme, such as civil servants. This hospital, run by Mariyam Shakeela, a former Hithadhoo resident, aims to provide first class medical care, but also requires more doctors to propel it to national standards. The hospital is currently campaigning to become an NGO called the Hawwa Trust to help alleviate some of HRH’s problems.

Eventually, once the basics are in place, Addu wants to develop medical tourism to attract patients to the Maldives. But for now this ambitious plan is limited until they come up to scratch on the other areas which are seriously lacking.

Donna Richardson is a freelance travel writer based in the Maldives.

For more information on Hithadhoo Regional Hospital visit


Addu-based arts camp targets overturning Maldives’ cultural limitations

This week will see the continuation of a ten-day International Artist’s Camp that organisers claim will for the first time bring together figures from both Indian and Maldivian society to try and overcome concerns about cultural limitations across the country’s atolls.

The camp, which has been organised by local association the United Artists of Maldives (UAM) and the High Commission of India, Male’, will see 14 artists – five from India and nine from the Maldives – gathering in Gan, Addu Atoll between 10 March to 21 March.

The project has been devised in order to produce a body of work expected to be put on show in Male’ as well as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the UAM has said.

Indian artists like Saurabh Narang and Gurdheep Singh Dhiman will join together with young artists from across the Maldives to collaborate and attempt to raise the profile of both their own artistic work and the cultural output of the nation as a whole. Other similar events are expected to be held around the region at later dates, the UAM said.

Speaking at the launch of the camp on Thursday 10 March in Male’, Mohamed Solih, honorary counsul of thailand in the Maldives and a UAM patron, said that although it may not always be apparent, “art is everywhere” and served to demonstrate how ideas can come in many forms, whether detailing happenings in the past, present or the future.

“However, it is sad to note that art and cultural activities are lacking in many areas. Budget cuts in the schools have impacted [these activities,” said Solih. “It is therefore important for all art lovers to unite and promote [culture] around the country.”

Solih said that in order to try and promote cultural pursuits in the Maldives, it was important to speak to people who did not understand the value of art and try to point out that music and reading material that were part of many people’s lives were all products of an artists’ vision.

“All of us know that arts are of equal value in our economy. In our schools and in our daily lives this is not a popular stance,“ he claimed. “Yet with some studies showing that music helps with learning and visual arts helps students with abstract thinking, this argument needs to be voiced over again. I am only one voice; but when one voice though is joined with many more, the effect is significantly increased.”

Using some artistic flourishes of his own, Indian artist Saurabh Narang said that he believed that like a seed, a nation’s art needed to be “nurtured and supported”.

Taking the Maldives’ natural assets as an example, Narang added that in flying into the country, the aerial views of blue depths and deep waters afforded by the experience were a powerful way to spark imagination.

In looking at the impacts of the art camp, Indian High Commissioner Dnyaneshwar Mulay claimed that the event was a historic development in the Maldives, particularly in how the nation perceived itself politically and socially.

“Political histories are always documented, but the social histories and, more important than that, the cultural histories are not always documented,” he said. “Culture is the true soul of humanity and unless the soul is solid, healthy, no revolution of any kind can be sustained.”

In trying to strengthen this notion of “soul”, Mulay said he believed that artists, musicians, painters, and performers of various instruments and arts were a key part of national identity.

“I’m very happy that the movement of democracy that started in the Maldives is now taking its true shape by spreading cultural values,” he said.

However, Mulay said that he had wished to see a stronger presence from the Maldives Government at the event, whose support was praised as being very important in raising the profile of cultural identity among the people of the Maldives.

“Personally I wish there was a more formal and stronger presence from the government, particularly the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, which has been a very important part of a partnership and cooperation to move forward,” he said. “I hope the message will get through that we do value their support.”

With the current Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Dr Mariyam Zulfa away on business in Berlin at the International Tourism Bourse (ITB) trade show, a unnamed source within her office had said it had therefore been impossible to attend.

However, beyond the ministry pursuing its own cultural and artistic programmes, the same source said that with a number of civil servants such as Ahmed Naeem being important members of the UAM, it was difficult for any involvement without raising suspicions of a “conflict of interests”.

Nonetheless, President Mohamed Nasheed last week addressed the significance of art and culture, as well as how the government hoped to nurture it, as part of his 2011 opening parliamentary address.

The president claimed that on the back of events like the Hay Maldives literary festival being held in the country for the first time last year, the government was looking to try and develop local skills and talent with the aid of an Arts Council and Heritage Council during 2011.

Beyond the possible challenges facing the government in pursuing the promotion and developments of arts and culture in the Maldives, other sectors of society such as religion are also an important part of understanding national identity.

Ibrahim Nazim, a co-founder of religious NGO, the Islamic Foundation of Maldives (IFM) told Minivan News that when it came to the role of art in a strongly Islamic nation like the Maldives, the organisation personally had a very specific view of culture in the country.

“What I would say is that our [the IFM’s] stand is that we see more western types of music, such as those involving guitars and other instruments as being discouraged under Islam,” he said. “Some forms [of music] may be permitted. Such as using instruments like hand drums. But generally we believe music is discouraged”

Nazim said that in areas such as visual arts, the IFM also held some reservations, such as in films where false names or false identities were being assumed by actors.

“These are things we see as being discouraged in Islam,” he said.

Nazim added though that there were forms of arts that were welcomed as important parts of Islamic faith, not least in the guise of architecture and scripts carved into walls and wood that he believed were very beautiful.

“There have been Muslim artists in fields such as architecture and these are most welcome,” he said. “We welcome forms of art provided that it does not resemble any Christian forms [of culture]”.


“We will beat them up and drag them away”: transcript of Mavota’s alleged phone call

In a leaked phone conversation allegedly between Spokesperson and Deputy leader of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) ‘Mavota’ Ibrahim Shareef and another member of DRP, a voice believed to be Shareef questions Gayoom’s support in Addu and suggested that were Gayoom’s faction to campaign there, “we will beat them up and drag them away [from Addu].”

The source of the leaked phone call, which has been aired on MNBC and DhiFM, has not been identified or its authenticity yet confirmed or denied.

Voice S: Definitely there would not be 99 percent of DRP supporters in Addu behind Maumoon.

Voice A: Just now, Shareef…

Voice S: The support for me would be much higher than that.

Voice A: Yes but just think…

Voice S: What did I say then, the result of all this will be MDP remaining in the administration…

Voice S: Istead of that [if he’s going to Addu] without having any connection with us, but with Umar Naseer and Ilham, he [Gayoom] will have to forget it. I tell you now, it would even be impossible to step on Addu without inviting us.

Voice A: What?

Voice S: We will beat them up and drag them away [from Addu].

Voice A: Zaeem? [Zaeem – literally honorary leader]

Voice S: Yes… will have to forget going to Addu during his visits [to islands].

DRP supporters who had heard the audio clip broadcast of MNBC and DhiFM gathered outside DRP’s headquarters this morning and called for Shareef and party Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali to resign.

Shareef then came out of DRP’s head office to address the protesters, but was attacked escorted to safety by police.

After police took Shareef away, the gathered people called on the resignation of Thasmeen. Minor confrontations between both sides of the party were reported.

Among the spectators of the incident this morning were many Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters.

The Council Meeting

In a meeting of the DRP council meeting this afternoon – with Gayoom’s members noticeably absent –  the party decided to sign a coalition agreement with Hassan Saeed’s Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), pledging cooperation in the 2013 presidential election, and the parliamentary and local council elections to be held in 2014.

Haveeru reported that Dr Hassan Saeed had sided with the current leader of DRP, Ahmed Thasmeen Ali.

DRP MP Abdulla Mausoom confirmed the arrangement and said that the party would soon issue a press statement regarding the agreement.


Addu election canceled after Civil Court rules Addu city criteria invalid

The Civil Court has ruled that the government’s criteria to declare Addu a city are invalid, days before the local council elections are due to take place.

Yesterday evening the decision led the Election Commission to cancel the elections in Addu.

Local newspaper Haveeru reported that Civil Court Judges Aisha Shujoon Mohamed, Hathif Hilmy and Ali Naseer had examined the case, before ruling that the criteria established by the Local Government Authority – consisting solely of Home Minister Hassan Afeef – were invalid. According to court documents cited by Haveeru, this ruling came from a case filed by Hassan Nasir of Annaaru Villa/Addu Atoll Hulhudhoo.

Establishing the criteria required majority of the board, the Court said, as “if a law requires a certain decision to be taken by a particular council or a committee, the decision should be taken by the majority of the council or the committee unless interpreted otherwise.”

Afeef said he was unable to comment as he had not yet seen the Civil Court’s ruling.

The Civil Court first overturned the President’s declaration of Addu as city last month, citing the technicality that the criteria to establish the definition of a city had not been established as required by the Local Government Authority.

That case was filed by the minority opposition party Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), and strong feelings on the subject among Addu citizens in Male’ and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters led to protests outside the house of DQP Leader Hassan Saeed – himself a prominent Adduan.

In response, President Nasheed appointed Afeef to then-empty Local Government Authority – leaving other positions empty – who hastily published city criteria in the government gazette.

The criteria stated that a region would be considered a city if it had a minimum population of 25,000 people and a GDP of no less than Rf 1 billion. The GDP of Addu in 2010 was more than Rf 2 billion, while the population is almost 30,000, according to the Department of National Planning.

The President then declared Addu a city for the second time, even as the Elections Commission (EC) warned that it could be obligated to repeat the voter registration process in Addu, potentially delaying the local council elections in Addu by two weeks. The EC subsequently decided to continue with the election on February 5, on correction of the procedure.

Minivan News sought response from the Attorney General Dr Ahmed Ali Sawad, but had not received any at time of press.


DQP fully supports Addu becoming a city, says party

The Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), led by former Attorney General Dr Hassan Saeed, has released a statement saying that the party fully supports Addu becoming a city, but only if it was accomplished through lawful procedure.

Following the President’s first declaration that Addu would become a city prior to the local council elections, DQP Deputy leader Imad Solih filed the issue in the Civil Court stating that the President had not followed correct procedures and that therefore his declaration was invalid.

On Sunday, the Civil Court ruled in DQP’s favour and overturned the President’s decision to make Addu a city.

Adduans and ruling-party activists gathered near Dr Hassan Saeed’s house after the court ruling, and called for DQP to be abolished. Saeed is himself a prominent Adduan.

”The Decentralisation Act was drafted by the government and was ratified by the president,” observed DQP in a statement today. ”The Act very clearly states how cities should be determined in different parts of the Maldives.”

DQP said that if the government was unhappy with the procedure mentioned in the Act, it had the option to propose amendments to the Act.

”There are five ruling party MPs representing Addu in parliament, and to date they have not proposed any amendments to the Local Council Act,” the statement said. ”The President or anyone else should not be acting against the law.”

The party called on the government to cease its attempts “to create civil unrest.”

The Civil Court ruled that Addu could not be declared a city until it met unspecified requirements stipulated by the Local Government Authority. Home Minister Hassan Afeef, the sole member of the authority, yesterday published these requirements in the gazette and President Nasheed officially declared Addu a city for a second time.

However the Elections Commission has now stated that this will require it to redo the voter registration process, potentially delaying the elections by two months.


President declares Addu Atoll a city again, after Civil Court overturns decision on technicality

President Mohamed Nasheed has declared Addu a city – for the second time – after the Civil Court ruled yesterday in favour of the Dhivehi Quamee Party (DQP) that the President had no authority to do so.

The Civil Court of the Maldives ruled that the President did not have the authority to declare islands as a city before the Local Government Authority had established a criteria to determine cities, as the law stated that “all cities should meet the criteria established by the Local Government Authority.”

The President’s Office said this afternoon that the Local Government Authority had now established the criteria and published it in the government’s gazette, and stated that a city council had been formed for Addu in accordance with Decree number 2010/15, and Annex 2 of the Decentralisation Act.

The President also sent a letter to the Elections Commission, informing them of his decision to declare Addu a city. In the letter, he requested the Elections Commission to hold elections for the Addu city council as scheduled and in accordance with law.

The Local Government Authority’s criteria for establishing a city include that it have a minimum population of 25,000 people, and have a GDP of no less than RF 1 billion.

Statistics from the Department of National Planning show the GDP of Addu in 2010 as more than Rf 2 billion, while the population is almost 30,000.


Court action may postpone Addu Atoll city council elections

Planned elections to appoint a city council to serve Addu Attoll will be postponed if court action taken by some MPs to revoke the decision to treat the region a single city is successful, Haveeru has reported.

President Mohamed Nasheed has said that if the Civil Court moves to reverse the decision announced back in October to make Addu Atoll’s islands individual wards of a single city, elections would be postponed, according to the paper.

The Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) reportedly filed the case over concerns that the president may not be authorised to award city status to Addu on the grounds that the atoll may not appease the requirements outlined under the country’s Decentralisation Act.

However, Nasheed has said that the Addu city decision was made after consultation with government and opposition parties.

“I didn’t decide to give city status to Addu after waking up one morning,” he was quoted as saying in Haveeru.