US invites Maldives delegation aboard USS John C Stennis aircraft carrier

Senior government officials were invited aboard a United States aircraft carrier on Wednesday (March 27) as it passed by the Maldives.

The visit was followed by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Maldives and the US government on Thursday to install a free border control system in the country.

Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb, Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz and Vice President Mohamed Waheed Deen, were flown to the USS John C Stennis aircraft carrier as part of an arrangement between the US embassy and Maldives Defence Ministry.

The visit was documented by the ministers, who posted photographs on social media site Twitter.


Commonwealth delegation departs, ahead of extraordinary CMAG meeting

The Commonwealth ministerial delegation sent to investigate the circumstances surrounding the sudden transfer of power in the Maldives on February 7 has departed.

The information collected by the delegation will be reviewed and presented to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) at an extraordinary meeting to be held in London this week.

The delegation, led by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Communications of Trinidad and Tobago, Surujrattan Rambachan, gave a brief but vague statement to the media on their departure. He was accompanied by Dr Dipu Moni, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, and Dennis Richardson AO, Australian Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and former head of Australia’s secret intelligence agency, ASIO.

The objective, Rambachan said, was “to develop a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding the transfer of power in this country earlier this month, as well as to promote adherence to Commonwealth values and principles. We believe we are returning with the enhanced understanding of the situation that we came to seek.”

“We have held detailed discussions with a wide range of stakeholders, including President Waheed, former President Nasheed, the Speaker of the Majlis, the Chief Justice, several political parties, independent institutions, relevant military and police personnel, as well as others. We have also consulted international partners and civil society,” Rambachan said, reading the delegation’s departure statement.

“The Maldives is a valued member of the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth has had a long association with the democratic transition in this country. It will continue to support Maldives in every possible way as it seeks to find a way forward at this difficult time.”

Answering questions, the delegation resisted being drawn into discussion as to their preliminary findings, or their position on early elections, stating that the mission was non-judgemental and that much of the information received was still to reviewed before a report was compiled ahead of the CMAG meeting.

“We cannot pronounce at this stage whether something is illegal or legal, constitutional or unconstitutional,” said Dr Moni. “We have collected information and we really need to sit down and go through it. We came here with a very neutral mind. We will report our recommendations to CMAG.”

Whatever conclusion was arrived at “must be according to the interest of the Maldivian people,” noted Rambachan.

“We had discussions with political parties on the topic of a way forward. Early elections are something people are considering and we have asked for views and opinions. That will form part of our deliberations in London. The wishes of the Maldivian people must be taken into full consideration.”


Adhaalath Party raises alarm over visiting agricultural delegation from Israel

Deputy Leader of the Adhaalath Party Dr Mauroof Hussein has called for alarm after alleging that a delegation from an Israeli company, Teshuva Agricultural Products, was due to arrive in the Maldives to assess the country’s agricultural potential.

The  delegation was scheduled to visit Fihladhoo and Maafahi in Haa Alifu Atoll and Addu City, and would be hosted by the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture. On its website the company claims its advanced agricultural methods “allow for fresh culinary herbs to be grown in soil-less hydroponic systems.”

Dr Hussein said the relationship between the Maldives and Israel “is dangerous” and that it was “a threat to the national security of the Maldives”.

“Due to the close relationship with Israel, this delegation is not required to have a work visa, which is usually necessary for these type of delegations to have,” Dr Hussein claimed.

Dr Hussein called on island councilors to “be aware” of “this kind of delegation”, claiming Israel had been “cutting down olive trees in Palestine, setting fire to the crops and trying to bring down Masjid Al-Aqsa.”

He further alleged that citizens should be alert about “a rumor that the government is trying to enact a law that would enable foreigners to have land plots in the Maldives, on request of the Zionists.”

Dr Hussein said that Adhaalath Party had “always revealed the secret relationship between the Maldives and the Israeli government”, but said that the government had responded by “humiliating the Adhaalath Party by saying we talk about nothing else.”

In his statement Dr Hussein claimed the recently leaked diplomatic cables “revealed that what the Adhaalath Party was saying was true”, and that the Maldives “has been voting in the UN in favor of Israel.”

Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.

The last time an Israeli delegation visited the Maldives – a team of volunteer eye surgeons – protests erupted across Male’ that saw the burning of Israeli flags and calls to “ban all Israeli medical teams” from practicing in the Maldives.

Protesters burned several Israeli flags in Republic Square and demanded the deportation of the seven visiting eye surgeons, who were holding free eye camps in Male’ and island hospitals.

Religious NGO Jamiyyathusalaf at the time called on the government to provide citizens with military training “before Jews take over the country”.