Government and opposition send messages to mark Sri Lankan independence

Both the government and opposition have extended felicitations to the people of Sri Lanka on the occasion of the country’s 67th Independence Day.

President Abulla Yameen sent messages to the newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena, and his Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, extending good wishes from the people of the Maldives.

Meanwhile, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party released a statement noting that Maldivians have always followed development in Sri Lanka, saying that “progresses in foreign and political affairs [in Maldives] have always reflected developments in Sri Lanka.”

“The Maldivian Democratic Party joins our cousins in Sri Lanka in reflection that this Independence Day holds much significance, as it reflects a history of great sacrifices made by many Sri Lankans in the attainment of its freedom,” said party Spokesman Hamid Abdul Ghafoor.

President Sirisena inflicted a surprising defeat on the ten-year incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa in last month’s presidential polls.

Sri Lanka gained independence from British rule on February 4, 1948. The Maldives will itself celebrate 50 years since it gained total independence from the British Empire on July 26 this year.


Audio of officer admitting to planting beer at MDP protest “edited”, claims MNDF

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) has issued a statement challenging claims made by private broadcaster Raajje TV, which aired a voice recording of a MNDF officer stating that beer cans discovered during the police dismantling of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s protest camp had been planted by security services.

‘’We do not believe the audio is a voice recording of a MNDF officer that was in  the area that day,’’ the MNDF said in the statement. ‘’We believe that the voice has been edited.’’

MNDF said it condemned attempts to slander the MNDF.

In the voice recording released by Raajje TV, the MNDF officer admits taking beer cans to the area and keeping the beer cans inside a box in the area. He also says that the beer cans were cold when then they were taken to the area.

CEO of Raajje TV Abdulla Rafeeq told Minivan News that the voice recording was “100 percent valid” and “the voice of a member of the armed forces”.

‘’In our news we did not mention whether it was a MNDF officer or Police officer, we only said it was a member of the armed forces,’’ Rafeeq said. ‘’We did not edit the voice recording but we changed the voice to keep the source anonymous.’’

‘’There are other officers of the armed forces that have witnessed the incident,’’ he said. ‘’This officer that gave us the interview said he just could not ignore the matter knowing all this.’’

On March 19, Police and MNDF officers entered the MDP’s protest camp and demolished all evidence of it, taking down the podium, tents, yellow flags, and even repainting the seawall to remove anti-government slogans.

Media was initially ordered to leave the area, but was subsequently readmitted. Police then claimed to have discovered beer cans, homemade alcohol and condoms.

The MDP has since accused the police and MNDF officers of planting the items to discredit the MDP.


”Expat or locals, both are human”: DRP calls on government to reopen water taps

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Ahmed Nihan has called on the government to reopen the closed public water taps in Malé by the end of this week.

Deputy Head of Malé Municipality Mohamed Arif told Minivan News yesterday that all but four of the 19 taps closed because they were “mostly being used by expats [and] not Maldivians.”

The water taps cost the municipality Rf3.5 million (US$270,000) last year, he said.

Today, Nihan said many people were complaining that the municipality’s decision was causing them difficulty.

”Expat or locals, both are human,” he said. ”Water is a basic fundamental right for any human being.”

”We want the government to keep at least eight taps available,” Nihan said, ”so that two are available for each district.”

He said the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) standards would not allow a country to keep its public water taps closed.

Nihan said he did not want the water from the taps to be used for car washing or business purposes.

”We are ready to go out on the streets and protest on this issue,” he said. ”If they do not reopen the taps by this week we will come out to the streets and will even take the issue to parliament.”

Nihan said the party was waiting so as to give some time for the government to reverse the decision.

”This shows how incapable and unable the government is to run this country,” he said. “They cannot even manage the public water taps.”

Head of Male’ Municipality Adam Manik said the government “might or might not” reopen four more taps.

”We do not want to know what the DRP wants,” Adam said. ‘We understand what the people want, and so far nobody has complained [to us] that they are having difficulties.”

Adam said there would be enough water available from the four open taps, and that he did not wish to comment on the issue further.

MDP MP Alhan Fahmy also said he did not want to comment on the issue while spokesperson for the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Parliamentary group, Ahmed Shifaz did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.