Maldives’ records show 60mm sea-level rise in last 20 years, says Gayoom

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has told the 15th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit that recordings in the Maldives show sea levels rose by 60mm in the last 20 years.

While speaking at the summit today (January 5), Gayoom said that changes to the Maldives’ environment in the last 20 years were concerning and far worse than previously estimated, adding that global warming is one of the biggest problems faced by island nations.

“We are seeing many changes in the environment which were not present when the Millennium Development Goals were set up, small nations like us are concerned about this,” said the former president.

Gayoom has recently called upon leaders of developed nations to allow small island states to lead the world in efforts to combat climate change, with the Maldives recently becoming chair of the Alliance of Small Island States.

This year marks the third time Gayoom has spoken at the Delhi summit, organised by The Energy and Resources Institute, picking up a sustainable development award in 2009.

Source: Haveeru


Direct flights between Malé and Delhi being discussed

The Maldives deputy tourism minister has told Indian media that direct flights between Malé and Delhi will begin soon.

“The national carrier Island Aviation will be shortly operating chartered flights from here to our country. This is being done to provide direct flight service from here to Maldives to attract more tourists,” Hussain Lirar was reported as telling India’s Business Standard.

During a recent state visit to India, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen was said to have discussed the importance of introducing direct air links with Indian leaders.

The Maldives High Commissioner to India Mohamed Nasser, was also reported to have said that a road show would soon be launched in India to showcase future developments in the Maldives largest industry. Chinese arrivals account for around 25 percent of the current market share, compared with India’s 3.3 percent.

Similar roadshows were produced in China in 2012, following the explosion in Chinese tourist arrivals over the past five years.

The head of the Maldives national airline has told local media of plans to introduce direct flight between Malé and Indian capital New Delhi.

Abdul Haris, managing director of Island Aviation, told Haveeru that discussions were ongoing between Maldivian airline and an Indian aviation company. He said that feasibility studies – examining the likely profitability of the route – were underway.

Links between the Indian and Maldivian governments have of late experienced an improvement after rising tensions during the previous administration of Dr Mohamed Waheed.


India getting tough on Waheed government: Business Standard

There is much more energy this February in doing the right thing by the Maldivians, unlike last February when Delhi deemed the transfer of power or coup from Mohamed Nasheed to Mohamed Waheed to be legitimate, writes Jyoti Malhotra for the Business Standard.

Certainly, the ongoing struggle for power in Maldives constitutes one of the most interesting stories in South Asia. A former bureaucrat in the United Nations and the first Maldivian to have studied at Stanford University, Waheed inveigled himself to the top job last year by allowing the former Maldivian president, Abdul Maumoon Gayoom, to play puppeteer.

When Nasheed, a charismatic and democratically elected president, had a judge arrested for a repeatedly biased record in January 2012, Gayoom had Waheed waiting in the wings to replace Nasheed. The Maldivian security forces played their part by overthrowing Nasheed.

A whole year later, Delhi has sought to make amends. Nasheed was invited to visit India on an official visit earlier this month, when he met National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon. On his return from Argentina, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid has been in regular touch with him, as well as other actors in Maldives. Last week, the ministry of external affairs stated the Waheed government should hold a free, fair and credible election in September, implying Nasheed should be allowed to participate in it; if he was arrested, he would be effectively eliminated from the election.

Rumours are afoot that India’s outgoing high commissioner, D M Mulay, was summoned to the Maldivian foreign office and scolded for allowing external interference inside the high commission, a reference to hosting Nasheed. A second and more important rumour is about a possible compromise between Nasheed and the judiciary; either charges could be withdrawn against Nasheed or these could be deferred until after the elections are held on September 7 or Nasheed could be tried in absentia and sentenced.

Some say the Indian government could press Waheed and the power behind the throne, former dictator Gayoom, to drop charges against Nasheed because they have seen through the game both have played over the past year. India and the world know Maldives has barely enough money to import a month’s worth of foodstuff and other essential commodities. The idea of economic sanctions has sometimes been known to work wonders.

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“Political lightweight” President to face “complex” deliberations in Delhi: The Hindu

A host of complex issues will come up for deliberations as Maldivian President Waheed Hassan Manik, arrives in New Delhi on Friday, soon after the successful visit of the former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed to India, writes R. K. Radhakrishnan for Indian newspaper The Hindu.

Dr Waheed, the former Vice-President, who stepped in after Mr Nasheed vacated office on February 7, is a political lightweight, who will be unable to categorically assure New Delhi on issues that are high on the agenda. The issues include the problems confronting Indian investments in the Maldives, the open hostility of some sections of the new government towards India, and the fate of projects that have been approved by the Nasheed dispensation.

But the most important agenda will be the political issues that have been flagged by Mr Nasheed during his visit to New Delhi. The Waheed government has neither shown the urgency, nor the persistence to engage all shades of opinion to arrive at an early election date. While the main supporters of the new administration, including India, the United States and the European Union, wanted early elections – by the end of the year – this now appears remote.

Dr Waheed’s main backers in Maldives want elections closer to the date that the elections would normally be conducted – late next year. There have been some discussions on fixing July 2013 as the election month, but this too has not found favour with Dr. Waheed’s backers – including the former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, one source said.

Dr. Waheed will be flown to New Delhi in a special plane on Friday, in his first visit to India after he took over as President. During the five-day visit, he is expected to meet a host officials and leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Officials said that the visit has been accorded the status of an ‘official visit’ as opposed to a ‘State visit.’

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India underscored its influence during Maldives 1988 coup: Times of India

When Maldives was attacked in 1988 to overthrow President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, India underscored its influence in the region despite the timely help to Maldives, writes Sameer Arshad for The Times of India.

It was a decisive moment for India in Male way back in November 1988. Dozens of opposition backed mercenaries had descended on the Maldives capital and attacked president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s palace to overthrow his government. A handful of guards engaged the attackers, allowing Gayoom to seek New Delhi’s help. Within hours, India obliged and flew in 1,600 paratroopers to frustrate the coup.

India’s timely help – considering Maldives had no army or navy – underscored its influence in a region which straddles the major sea lanes of the Indian Ocean. But more than two decades later, experts blame India for frittering away its advantage as China jockeys with it for influence in the region.

“India has, as usual, been very late in realizing China’s seriousness about Maldives. Like all its neighbours ( NepalMyanmarSri Lanka), New Delhi continued to believe Maldives will remain in its pocket,” says Harsh V Pant, a lecturer at King’s College Defence Studies in the article.

Pant warned of “real difficulty” for India if Maldives becomes another “pearl in China’s string of facilities around its periphery”.

China’s economic, political and diplomatic investment in Maldives is significant as it was not on its radar till recently, says Pant. “China has given India a run for its money, and even left it behind in some cases, in Maldives.”

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Ten killed in Delhi briefcase bombing

An improvised explosive device (IED) killed at least 10 people and injured approximately 65 this morning at the high court in Delhi, India. UK’s The Guardian reports that the bomb was hidden in the briefcase which had been placed near the court’s reception center where people queue for visitors’ passes.

The bomb exploded at 10:14 am, a peak traffic time. The Guardian calls it the largest attack in India’s capital since a series of bombs went off in markets three years ago, killing 25 people.

India’s home secretary, RK Singh, said the attack “has all the signs of an IED explosion set off by a terror group,” The Guardian reports.

Reuters has reported that a militant terrorist group called Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami, or HuJI, had taken responsibility for the attack.

Delhi’s high court was targeted earlier this year, when a minor blast on 25 May took place at approximately the same location. No casualties were reported.

US-based The New York Times reports that Indian intelligence agencies had been criticized lately for slackening security measures. The report stated authorities had received information about a possible terror threat to Delhi in July, which they turned over to local police.

Reports indicate that this and previous attacks in Delhi and Mumbai, India’s two most important cities, did not involve electronic communication- – common aspect of many terror plots. Officials consider this a “troubling pattern.”

Wednesdays are known busy days at the the Delhi court, which hears public interest litigations on that day. The court is also located within a mile of parliament. The Guardian notes that at one point the two buildings were temporarily connected to allow home minister Palaniappan Chidambaram to deliver statements on the latest atrocity.

One MP allegedly called today’s bombing “an attack on the nation.”

In December 2001, the Indian parliament was targeted by a suicide bomber belonging to Islamist terror groups Jaish-E-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba, based in Pakistan.