President Waheed receives grand welcome on return to Malé

President Abdulla Yameen has received former President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan upon his return to Malé last night amidst great fanfare.

Waheed and his wife Ilham Hussein were greeted at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport by Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and several ministers including Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim and Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb.

Speaking to the press on his arrival, Waheed said he now wished to work “for the benefit of the community.”

Yameen , Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim, MPs, senior government officials and dozens of supporters welcomed Dr Waheed on his return to the capital. Speaking to the media, Yameen pledged “the highest honors and respect” to his predecessor.

When asked if Waheed will be given a government position, Yameen declined to comment, stating “this is a matter between us”.

An official motorcade escorted Waheed and Ilham to their residence.

Waheed had departed the Maldives on a private visit on November 14, days after declaring he would remain in power beyond the end of the presidential term on November 11. In a televised speech, Waheed pledged to resign on the day of the presidential run-off, scheduled for November 16.

The Ministry of Finance and Treasury approved MVR 525,000 (US$34,047) for Waheed’s month long trip.

He had contested in the annulled first round held on September 7,winning just 5.13 percent of the vote. Waheed subsequently decided to back Yameen in the following rounds.

Speaking to local media before his departure, Waheed said his return depended on the political environment in the Maldives. When Yameen won the presidential election on November 16, Waheed quickly announced that he would be returning to the Maldives.

Waheed assumed the presidency after the controversial resignation of his predecessor, Mohamed Nasheed, on February 7, 2012. Nasheed has accused his deputy Waheed of engineering a coup d’état to unseat the Maldives’ first democratically elected government.

Yameen’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) played a key role in supporting and maintaining Waheed’s rule amidst two years of political turmoil.

The PPM will seek to amend the Former Presidents’ Privileges Act in order to ensure Waheed receives privileges and immunities, Yameen said. At present, the act states that a president must hold power for 30 months in order to qualify for privileges. Waheed had held the post for 21 months.

In his farewell address on November 15, Waheed defended his track record, claiming he had maintained peace and stability despite assuming the presidency at a time of “anger, unrest and economic ruin.”


President Waheed to leave Maldives indefinitely two days before elections

President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan is to depart the Maldives indefinitely on Thursday night.

Speaking to Haveeru, Waheed said he will be accompanying First Lady Ilham Hussein on a medical visit to Singapore. Although he said he would come back to the Maldives, he did not specify a return date.

On Sunday, an hour before his presidency expired, Waheed declared he would remain as head of state until run off polls take place on November 16.

“I do not think there is much I can do from here, things that I cannot do over the phone,” Waheed told Haveeru.

President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad said he “wasn’t aware of any upcoming trips”.

Waheed was President Mohamed Nasheed’s deputy and came to power after Nasheed resigned alleging coup d’état in February 2012.

Speaking to the press today, Nasheed said Waheed was unlikely to resign on Saturday as promised.

“Now, I do not think President Waheed is going to resign on the 16th. I hear he is leaving the Maldives on the 14th. I think he is leaving on the 14th and will not resign on the 16th. And while abroad, he will say say he is the head of state. And the Supreme Court, the police and military will govern here,” he said.

He pointed to the Maldives being ruled in the name of Abdul Majeed Rannabandeyri Kilegefaanu for eight years, starting in 1944, although the monarch was living in Egypt at the time.

The US, UK and the Commonwealth have condemned Waheed’s decision to stay on and called for the November 16 run-offs to proceed as planned.

“This action has endangered the Maldivian people’s right to elect a leader of their choice,” stated the US Embassy in Colombo.

Cabinet ministers revealed on Monday that Waheed had arrived at the President’s Office late on Sunday evening prepared to resign and hand over power to the Speaker of Parliament, as stipulated by Article 124 of the constitution, but claimed to have convinced him otherwise. His Vice President, Waheed Deen, had resigned that morning.

Minivan News understands that defence chiefs arrived at the President’s Office prior to Waheed’s address to the nation, initially scheduled for 10:30pm on Sunday. The address was delayed an hour, before Waheed appeared and said he would resign on November 16, the date scheduled for the delayed run-off vote.

After making the statement, Waheed and his wife were escorted off Male to the presidential retreat of Aarah, as violent protests erupted in the capital.

The couple returned to the Maldives on Monday, and moved out of the official presidential residence at Hilaleege. They are currently residing in the First Lady’s house in Malé.

Nasheed has accused Waheed of collaborating with former president of 30 years, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, to destroy the independence and sovereignty of the Maldives.

“Regardless, when the second round ends, due to the joy and hopes that come with the results, it will be very difficult for a few people to turn it in any another direction. This is what happened in 2008,” Nasheed said.


Waheed arrived at President’s Office with resignation statement but we advised him to stay, say ministers

Minister of Tourism Ahmed Adheeb and Acting Foreign Minister Mariyam Shakeela have said the cabinet advised President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan to stay on after the end of the presidential term at midnight on November 11 and despite international pressure to hand over the presidency to People’s Majlis Speaker.

Waheed gave a televised statement last night declaring he will stay in power beyond the conclusion of his presidential term, but will resign on the day of the presidential run off on November 16. His deputy Waheed Deen resigned yesterday morning.

Speaking to the press at noon at the President’s Office, Adheeb said Waheed’s decision to continue with the presidency “is the strongest, most courageous decisions taken in the history of this country.”

Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid has meanwhile sent a letter to Waheed informing him that he was no longer in command of the country and could only extend his term by amending Article 107 of the constitution, which limits a presidential term to five years.

The Majlis with the backing of 39 MPs approved a resolution for the Speaker to assume the presidency in the absence of a president elect on November 11. The government-aligned Progressive Party of the Maldives and Jumhoree Party boycotted the vote

The Supreme Court on Saturday struck down the motion and ruled that Waheed’s administration will continue until a new president is determined.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the Maldives Sir Donald McKinnon has also expressed “dismay” at Waheed’s decision to remain in office “against the letter and spirit of the constitution.”

Shakeela said Waheed had arrived at the President’s Office last night with two statements, one of which stated his resignation. However, the cabinet had advised him to stay on to keep the country from descending into “chaos and a constitutional void.”

“There was a lot of international pressure yesterday and a lot of quick decisions had to be taken. There were a lot of proposals up until the moment the president gave his statement,” Shakeela said.

One of the proposals included the Speaker assuming the presidency on conditions such as the international community guaranteeing the ensure safety of all cabinet members and their families. But Waheed’s final decision was of his own volition, the ministers said.

“The next four days is not the time to let the country descend into a void and chaos. Especially given the Supreme Court’s verdict. Actually, we did not pressure the president. We told him we remain steadfast with him,” Adheeb stated.

Waheed is currently on presidential retreat island Aarah and will come to the President’s Office only if needed, the ministers said. Over the next four days, the government will only carry out day-to-day operational tasks and will not start any new projects.

Adheeb accused the Shahid of committing “mini coups” through the Majlis and said the Speaker had attempted to overtake the presidency with international backing.

Arguing that the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of the constitution, and since the constitution did not envision a situation where a president-elect is not determined at the end of a presidential term, Adheeb claimed the Supreme Court’s rulings take precedence over any Majlis decision.

Adheeb said the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) – which emerged the front-runner in Saturday’s presidential polls with 46.93 percent of the vote – was scared to contest elections after Saturday’s results. Elections that had taken place under Waheed had been free and fair, he said.

The PPM has assured Waheed in writing that they will not delay run off elections on November 16, Adheeb said. Adheeb is one of the four Vice Presidents of the PPM, which gained 29.73 percent of the vote.

Adheeb alleged former President Mohamed Nasheed had left the Maldives on the verge of bankruptcy, and Waheed had returned it to “safe shores”.

“We brought this country this far, to these shores, from a state of bankruptcy. I am not saying we have solved everything. We did not have the time. But we have taken it in the right direction,” he claimed.

Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad told parliament just last week that tourism growth had flat-lined due to “political turmoil”, declining 0.1 percent in 2012 after years of double figure growth, while political instability meant outside banks had stop lending to the Maldives at rates less than 11 percent, forcing the government to draw on dwindling central bank reserves.

At the same time the State Trading Organisation (STO) warned that the Maldives was imminently about to run out of oil unless it was immediately bailed out with US$20 million to pay debtors.

The Maldives Monetary Authority Governor Fazeel Najeeb reported that the Maldives was on the verge of having to print money to pay its recurrent expenditure.


International community obliged to delegitimise President Waheed: Nasheed

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed has called on the international community not to recognise President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan should he stay in power beyond the end of the current presidential term at midnight tonight.

The Supreme Court in a ruling yesterday said Waheed’s presidency continues until a president elect is determined, invalidating a People’s Majlis resolution authorizing the speaker to assume the presidency in the absence of a president-elect.

Speaking to the press today, Nasheed said, “In my view, the international community is partly responsible for the messy situation here in the Maldives. We had a perfect well-oiled government in 2012. They came and they recognised my Vice President as the head of state. They have an obligation not to recognise him after the end of that period.”

Nasheed has called on Waheed to resign, allow Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid to assume the presidency and conduct the second round of presidential elections on November 16.

“We would hope that Dr Waheed will resign tonight and we are seeking for an election held with Shahid, the speaker of parliament, as head of state,” he said.

Waheed was Nasheed’s second in command, and came to the presidency on February 7, 2012, after elements of the police and military mutinied against Nasheed. The first democratically elected president publicly resigned, later alleging that he was ousted in a coup d’état.

Nasheed emerged as the frontrunner in yesterday’s presidential polls with 46.93 percent of the vote. He is set to compete against Progressive Party of the Maldives’s (PPM) Abdulla Yameen who won 29.73 percent.

A second round of elections was scheduled for today in order to ensure a president elect is determined by the end of the presidential term, but the Supreme Court in the early hours of the morning rescheduled the vote to November 16, reiterating the continuity of Waheed’s administration.

Beyond November 11

Speaking to the press on multiple occasions, Waheed has previously said he does not wish to stay on as president “even a day beyond November 11.” The President’s Office has not responded to the Supreme Court’s ruling on continuity of Waheed’s administration.

Nasheed described the Supreme Court as “vested interests”, and called on the international community “not to entertain” the apex court.

The Supreme Court annulled the first round of presidential polls held on September 7 despite unanimous praise of electoral conduct, and delineated 16 guidelines on electoral processes, limiting the independence of the Elections Commission and effectively giving veto power over elections to presidential candidates.

On October 19, the police brought elections to a halt after two of the three presidential candidates refused to sign the voter registry.

“[I]t is very clear to them now that the Supreme Court does not resemble any idea of a court. So I don’t believe the international community actually seriously takes the Supreme Court into account. And I would want them to very clearly indicate to the people of the Maldives, that they are with the constitution of the Maldives and not with the vested interests,” Nasheed said.

Further, an election conducted under Waheed’s leadership would be unconstitutional and “it would be very difficult” for the MDP to participate in such an election as such an election is open to interference from the Supreme Court, he added.

“We do not believe that if President Waheed continues in government that he would – or people aligned with him, working with him, in alliance with him – would want an election in the country. I think it is very clear that elections would go our way. If they do not intend to transfer power legally, then we do not see how they would want to have an election. So we don’t think there could be a conducive environment for elections. The Supreme Court will come out with another ruling upon the military or upon the police to definitely obstruct the elections. Come 16th of November, we will be back to square one,” he added.

Speaker to reach out

Meanwhile, Waheed’s Vice President Waheed Deen has stepped down today and a petition by mid ranking officers of the Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) calling on the army not to obey any order made by Waheed or his political appointees after November 11 has been circulating on social media.

The Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has come out in support of Waheed assuming the presidency.

Speaking to the press last night, the PPM’s presidential candidate Yameen said: “Now the Supreme Court verdict has come the way President Waheed hoped for or wanted. So I am certain that President Waheed will stay with the Maldivian people at this most difficult time we are facing. I have no doubt about that.”

But Nasheed said the spirit of the constitution was for the People’s Majlis speaker to assume the presidency in the absence of a president and vice president as Article 124 (b) confers presidential powers to the Speaker if the presidency becomes vacant for any reason.

The speaker is expected to reach out to the different arms of the government and the security forces today, he said.

Speaking to Minivan News last week, Shahid said that if the reigns of power are taken over by an unelected body on November 11, it would mark the death of democracy in the Maldives.

Should he assume presidency, his role would be to ensure an election as soon as possible, Shahid said.

“To make sure that we hold an election as soon as possible and that the country is put back on track. That the opportunity for the people to have their say is provided and an elected leader is put in place. And then my job is done. The sooner the better. This is not an opportunity I cherish at all, to be an interim caretaker for this country,” he said.


DRP votes to support MDP in presidential run-off

The Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has become the first party to officially back a candidate in the second round of the presidential election, throwing its support behind the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Mohamed Nasheed.

The decision made at a party council meeting earlier today saw 12 votes cast for the MDP and three for their run-off rivals the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), with seven party members undecided.

MDP spokesman Imthiyaz Fahmy today explained that there had been no official communication between his party and the DRP, emphasising that the move had been the DRP’s “own decision”.

Fahmy suggested that the move would bring 10,000 votes to his party – intimating that President Dr Mohamed Waheed himself had not attracted any votes for his coalition with the DRP in the first round.

The MDP have argued that they need only few thousand votes – in addition to the 95,224 received on Saturday (45.45 percent of the total) – to claim a second round win.

DRP MP’s Abdulla Mausoom and Rozaina Adam took to Twitter soon after the council’s decision with the MDP’s ‘kuriah, kuriah’ (‘forward, forward’) election slogan appearing on both members’ feeds.

Economic Minister Ahmed Mohamed voted in favour of backing PPM and is reported to have stormed out of the council meeting telling the press he intended to support the PPM regardless.

While leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali has previously said he would not remain in the DRP if the party’s council decided to enter a coalition with the MDP, the MP for Kendhoo said at a press conference after the council meeting today that it would be “irresponsible” for a senior politician to withhold support based on previous statements.

“Therefore, I intend to participate in President Nasheed’s campaign as DRP leader and fully participate in efforts to seek support for President Nasheed in the upcoming presidential election,” he said.

Thasmeen reportedly said that he considered the current political reality and decided on the path that would minimise the “spirit of political vengeance.”

Minivan News was unable to obtain further comment from the DRP prior to publication.

Going into the elections, the DRP aligned with President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Ittihad Party (GIP), with leader Thasmeen as Waheed’s running mate. Both candidates officially ran as independents, however, due to a prior registration issue linked with the size of the GIP.

Speaking with Minivan News the day before the election, Waheed explained that he felt the strength of the DRP could compensate for his party’s relatively small support base. The DRP is currently the country’s third largest party, with 21,411 members according to the Election Commissions most recent figures. It also has 10 members in the Majlis.

However, as it became clear that Waheed had gained the fewest votes on polling day – just 5.13 percent – the DRP’s Mausoom hinted that the party would be looking for new affiliations heading into the second round.

Registered in 2005, the DRP was formed as a vehicle for former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom to compete in the country’s first multi-party presidential elections in 2008. After the 30-year leader lost power to the MDP’s Mohamed Nasheed, the DRP remained the major opposition in parliament.

Thasmeen was anointed party head following Gayoom’s short-lived retirement from politics. However, the former’s willingness to negotiate with the MDP led to a 12-page letter of complaints from the former leader and an acrimonious split in 2011, followed by the departure of Gayoom loyalists to the newly-formed PPM.

Speaker of the Majlis Abdulla Shahid has been the highest profile defection from the DRP in recent months – joining the MDP to rapturous celebrations in April – though the party has seen a steady drain of support as PPM’s numbers have risen.


HRCM claims mandate pushed to limit over 15 year-old’s flogging sentence

The Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) has said its mandate has been pushed to the limit after “braving” the country’s courts to oppose a controversial flogging sentence handed to a 15 year-old sexual abuse victim that was overturned this week.

The flogging sentence handed to the minor by the Juvenile Court in February was  overturned by the High Court yesterday (August 21) after the girl denied confessing to having had consensual sex with an unknown partner.

HRCM member Jeehan Mahmoud said that the decision to punish the minor, which has since garnered global media attention, represented a “continuous failure” on behalf of the whole state to protect children and other victims of sexual abuse.

She therefore called on all stakeholders to strengthen their internal mechanisms for protecting vulnerable people in the country.

“Lots of money has been invested, but we have failed to uphold a system,” said Jeehan. “There must be a better translation into reality. We need to ensure that the group works for all cases – rather than the one or two that gain international attention.”

Jeehan said that as part of efforts to appeal the flogging sentence handed to the minor, the HRCM had adopted what she called an unprecedented tactic of “braving the courts” as a third party by directly approaching the judiciary.

“We required permission from the courts,” said Jeehan. “This was a groundbreaking opportunity…we pushed our mandate to its limits.”

Authorities had previously said that the minor had confessed to having consensual sex during a separate investigation into her alleged abuse that had resulted in the birth – and subsequent murder – of her baby.

On the back of the High Court’s ruling yesterday (August 21), Amnesty International – which has previously warned that the 15 year-old’s case was the “tip of the iceberg” in terms of the country’s treatment of victims of sexual offences – has released a statement welcoming the decision.

“Annulling this sentence was of course the right thing to do. We are relieved that the girl will be spared this inhumane ‘punishment’ based on an outrageous conviction,” said Amnesty’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director Polly Truscott.

Amnesty went on to argue that the sentence ought not to have been imposed in the first place, before calling for a moratorium on flogging.

Despite the moratorium calls, President Dr Mohamed Waheed defended the wider use of Islamic Sharia in the country’s courts, while expressing his satisfaction with the High Court verdict this week.

“I also note that [the] verdict has established beyond doubt the sound principles of Islamic Shariah for such cases and became part of the country’s legal framework,” said the president in a statement.

“Considering the state of the country today, with sexual violence against women and children increasing daily, it is essential for the criminal justice system to ensure that women and children do not become prey to further abuse. I believe that establishing procedures necessary for the legal framework to protect such children is a welcome development to ensure that such tragic incidents do not repeat.”

Waheed added that he saw the decision as “major progress” in the protection of children’s rights. He concluded by saying that the child was still under the state’s care.

“The state will continue to provide the assistance she needs to overcome the tragic ordeals she endured and live a happy life in our society.”

Attorney General (AG) Azima Shukhoor echoed President Waheed’s comments today, arguing that Islamic Sharia is perfectly well-equipped to protect the rights of children.

The AG also spoke of an online Avaaz petition calling for both the minor’s sentence to be overturned as well as an end to flogging, criticising those she said had “politicised” the issue, arguing that they had made the work of Maldivian authorities difficult.

The online petition was signed by over 2 million people – a group more than six times the population of the Maldives.

The Maldivian judicial system currently practices a combination of common law and Islamic Sharia. Article 142 of the country’s constitution mandates that any matter on which the constitution or the law is silent must be considered according sharia.

Maldivian civil society group Advocating the Rights of Children (ARC) meanwhile has continued to press the government for ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure.

This protocol provides an additional avenue of complaint should the state fail to uphold the rights of a child, which ARC mantain would greatly improve upon current domestic mechanisms.

“The case of the 15- year old girl is a good example of how the procedure could have been used to approach the UN Committee,” the group’s co-founder Zenysha Shaheed Zaki told Minivan News.


Former President Gayoom urges public to join PPM to protect democracy, Islam

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has urged Maldivians to join his Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) if they wish to safeguard democracy and the role of Islam in the country.

Speaking at a rally in the island of Fuvahmulah yesterday (April 12) to mark the official launching of PPM’s presidential campaign, Gayoom reportedly called on all Maldivians wishing for democracy to prevail in the nation to join with his party.

“Some people keep talking about parties forming coalitions, that they are forming alliances with others,” he was reported by Sun Online as saying.

“What I want to say is, if any of you want a perfect democracy, if any of you want Islam be sustained in the Maldives, if any of you want Maldivian sovereignty to be protected, I would like to ask that person to quickly join PPM.”

Gayoom autocratically ruled the Maldives for 30 years until being defeated by a coalition of parties backing former President Mohamed Nasheed in the country’s first democratic mutli-party elections in 2008.

Speaking to Minivan News today, PPM MP Ahmed Nihan said that Gayoom has long been established as being committed to upholding the country’s religious values and sovereignty.

Nihan said that since the PPM’s formation in 2011, the party had sought to prioritise defending the nation’s sovereignty and Islamic faith as outlined in the constitution.

He added that even before the PPM was formed by a breakaway faction within the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) – which Gayoom established back in 2005 – preserving Islam as the country’s only religion and protecting local culture has been a key focus for Gayoom’s supporters.

Addressing these supporters during last night’s rally, PPM presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen pledged to reform the taxation system and attract large foreign direct investment to the Maldives.

Yameen argued that levying a tax on “the person who imports the noodles packet” was better than taxing the consumer who buys it.

PPM would “revolutionise” how the state raises revenue, local media reported Yameen as saying.

Meanwhile, in his speech at the Fuvahmulah rally, Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed called on all parties in the government coalition to back PPM in the presidential election.

Jameel joined Yameen’s campaign team during the recently concluded PPM presidential primary. The home minister currently faces a no-confidence motion in parliament.

Jameel’s Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) has recently announced its intention to form a coalition with President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihad Party (GIP) for the September election.

DQP Leader Dr Hassan Saeed previously said that the party would not consider forming a coalition with either PPM or the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

“Weakening faith”

Meanwhile, speaking on Thursday (April 11) during an ongoing tour of North Maalhosmadulu Atoll, President Dr Mohamed Waheed expressed concern that “weakening faith” among Maldivians was allowing unspecified “foreign powers” to increase influence over the country.

“Our national anthem, national flag, and national colours that symbolize the country should come first,” read an official President’s Office statement quoting Dr Waheed.

His comments were slammed by the opposition MDP, which accused him of being double-faced, while also using the language of a “dictator”.

MDP MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor rejected suggestions that President Waheed stood as a unifying force for Islam in the Maldives, accusing him of politicising the nation’s faith for his own gain.

Hamid claimed that many Maldivians were aware that the president had sought to “play Islam” for political gain since he took office following the controversial transfer of power in February 2012.


Commonwealth committed to institutional reform, “credible elections” in the Maldives

The Commonwealth has said it will be working with the Maldivian government to push ahead with strengthening and reforming “key public institutions” as it reiterates calls for “inclusive and credible” presidential elections to be held next year.

In a statement issued Friday (December 7), Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma said the intergovernmental organisation would continue to work with international partners and Maldivian authorities on a programme of reform and “practical collaboration”.

Over the last twelve months, the Commonwealth has played a key role in terms of the international community’s stance towards the Maldives, particularly following the controversial transfer of power in February in which the present government came to office.

Following allegations by the now opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) that President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan came to power in a “coup d’etat”, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) applied pressure for a reformed Committee of National Inquiry (CNI) to investigate the details behind the change of government.

The CNI’s findings, welcomed by the Commonwealth, US and the UN, rejected accusations that the present government came to power illegally, despite claims from former president Mohamed Nasheed that the report’s conclusions were flawed and failed to include key witness statements and evidence.

The opposition MDP has previously said it holds severe structural concerns about the CNI’s conclusions, but accepted the report had provided a “way forward” to push for institutional reform in areas such as defence and the judiciary.


Following a teleconference held Thursday (December 6) with Maldives Foreign Minister Dr Abdul Samad Abdullah, Commonwealth Secretary General Sharma issued a statement welcoming government assurances that the CNI’s recommendations would be “advanced meaningfully”.

“It continues to be important that there is even-handed implementation of all the recommendations in the Report of the Commission of National Inquiry, including investigations into allegations of police brutality and acts of intimidation,” stated Sharma.

The secretary general also used the statement to emphasize hopes that presidential elections – anticipated to be held during 2013 – would be conducted on a “a level-playing field for all political parties and actors”.

The Commonwealth said it appreciated commitments made by Foreign Minister Dr Samad to this end.

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad was not responding to calls from Minivan News at the time of press over detailing the types of reform the government was said to have committed to following Thursday’s teleconference.


President Waheed meets US ambassador and British high commissioner in Male’

President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan yesterday held separate meetings with both the Ambassador of the United States accredited to the Maldives Michelle J Sison and the British High Commissioner to the Republic of Maldives John Rankin in Male’.

According to the Presidents’ Office, Dr Waheed spoke to both diplomats about the current progress towards scheduling presidential elections for next year. The US was also thanked for the assistance it provided in investigating the murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Rankin used his meeting to stress that the UK would continue to support political stability in the Maldives, while reiterating hopes that elections in 2013 were carried out “smoothly and independently”.