President appeals to MPs for “cooperation and support”

The president has appealed to opposition parties not to jeopardise the country’s nascent democratic system and put aside partisan politics, in his second presidential address on the opening of parliament.

He warned of the “consequences” should the government be forced to take to safeguard the country’s democratic system against “unlawful actions based on unrealistic hopes”, stating they would be borne “not only by this system of governance, but also by the opposition and we ourselves.”

“I don’t believe that any of us would want for that to happen. The sensible way would be to avoid falling into such personal rivalry and to build essential national foundations,” he said, calling on “the cooperation and support of the honourable Members of the People’s Majlis to transcend political turmoil and differences of thought and ideology.”


The president also spoke about addressing problems with the judicial system, promising that “this government will work tirelessly to solve the problems of delayed justice when people who are arrested and investigated are not prosecuted.”

He noted that the number of people who were sentenced and had their sentences enforced increased by 69.7 per cent last year compared to 2008, while the percentage of people involved in cases sent for prosecution increased by 88.2 per cent.

He also said the government would “redouble efforts to save generations of youth from strong addiction to
different kinds of hard drugs and free countless Maldivian families from this plague that has caused them so much grief and sorrow.”

He noted that the government had established branches of the prosecutor general’s office in the atolls.


The president asked that “beloved citizens who might harbour what might be considered extremist ideas and opinions to be moderate and soften their ways of thinking.”

“I call on all citizens to prioritise friendship and understanding for the harmony and progress of society,” he said.


The president appealed to MPs for “consideration and support” when he resubmitted amended legislation on decentralisation.

“This nation is in great need of the cooperation of this esteemed Majlis,” he said. “The Government desires to advance the principle of resolving matters through dialogue and deliberation with all political parties. At the moment, we must embark on many endeavours for this nation.

He said the government would also decentralise the country’s sports centres in the country and seek to organise a sea sport festival before 2012.

“In the coming two to four months, several projects are due to be started. I believe that if a framework to resolve issues through dialogue among the different political parties could be constituted, it would provide many benefits for the people.”

Nasheed appealed to the MPs to “talk to the Government so that the bills submitted by the government are speedily passed, even if it should be with amendments.”


Nasheed described the country’s outlook as “very clear, very joyous, as the Maldives passes the stages of consolidating democracy.

“With the grace of God, the government’s continued efforts to provide even more fulfilment and prosperity for the people will result in easing and enriching their lives further this year,” he said.


President to address World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi

President Mohamed Nasheed will shortly visit Abu Dhabi to address the World Future Energy Summit, a gathering of industry leaders, investors, scientists, specialists, policymakers and researchers.

The summit delegates will discuss the challenges of rising energy demand and possible actions to achieve a cleaner and more sustainable future for the world.

During his visit to Abu Dhabi, Nasheed will also meet the President of Greece, the Malaysian Prime Minister and the President of the United Arab Emirates.

After the event he will visit Mumbai to speak at the Global Economic Summit on Trade and Investment, and Chennai where he will chair an investment event focused on the Maldives.

The president will also visit Bahrain to meet with senior government officials and businesses.

At a press conference before his departure, Nasheed said he hoped the visits would open more opportunities for investment and assistance for the Maldives.


MNDF Male’ area inaugurated

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Malé Area was inaugurated by President Mohamed Nasheed yesterday.

The Male’ area is being formed as part of the MNDF decentralising its operations.

The president highlighted the importance of decentralising MNDF into different area commands. As a result, he said, army officers could now work closer to their families.

The president also mentioned the economic benefits to the local communities from the MNDF bases.

He said Rf65 million, spent annually on salaries, healthcare and catering for MNDF staff, would directly benefit the local economies.

MNDF have already established an area command centers in southern, central and northern parts of the country.


Majlis budget “doesn’t add up” says president

President Mohamed Nasheed has criticised the budget passed by parliament, claiming that it contains “some recommendations that will be difficult for me to follow.”

The 2010 mid-term budget was passed by the Majlis last week, after recommendations totalling Rf800 million (US$62 million) were added following a parliamentary committee review. These included restoring civil servant salaries and subsidies for sectors ranging form fishing to agriculture and private media.

“When I looked at the recommendations, I saw that most of them were, in my view, for us to do things right,” Nasheed said, “[but] it has to be kept in mind that the budget is made up of numbers; it is a mathematical transaction. If things are to be done for political reasons, the numbers won’t add up.”

“I would like to assure the Majlis members and the people that the implementation of the budget will be based on what they said,” he said, but added that some of the recommendations “might be in violation of laws… and the government cannot implement them.”

The President’s remarks were met with outrage from members of the Majlis, who have interpreted his comments as an attempt to undermine parliament’s role in the governance of the country.

“Neither the president nor the finance ministry has the discretion to implement the budget contrary to what was passed by the People’s Majlis,” said a statement from the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), highlighting article 96(b) of the Maldives constitution.

That article reads: “The People’s Majlis may approve or amend the budget submitted by the Minister of Finance as it deems fit.”

The DQP accused the president of disregarding the constitution, claiming his remarks were “something only a dictator would say” and that he was “unable to digest a democratic system with separation of powers.”

“The people’s representatives will decide how the people’s money will be spent. After the people’s representatives make a decision, the president does not have the discretion to implement the budget any other way,” the party said.

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP for Vilumaafannu, Ahmed Nihan, insisted that parliament had worked within the law when making ammendments to the budget.

“The constitution clearly gives us the right to make amendments [to the budget],” he said. “We made those amendments, including subsidies for fishermen, agriculture and a little amount independent media. The president doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

Nihan accused Nasheed of “playing hide-and-seek with democracy”.

“I’m sure he’s lying. We’ve worked within the law,” he said, when asked if any of the recommendations would prove unconstitutional.

Asked where the additional Rf800 million would come from, Nihan replied “taxation”, observing that “after Copenhagen [Nasheed] said all the finances we need have been arranged with overseas parties.”

During his homecoming press conference, the president joked that “the bulk” of $30 billion in short-term aid promised by the developed world at the UN’s Climate Change Convention in Copenhagen would be given to the Maldives.

“I can say now with confidence that we will provide water, sanitation, electricity and build harbours in all islands,” he promised. “God willing, we will not face difficulties with money now.”


President to return home today

President Nasheed returns to Male’ today after playing his part in the United Nations Forum for Climate Change held in Copenhagen.

While the president played a pivotal role in the summit, media across the world reported that many countries present at the conference showed little respect for the work done by President Nasheed and other leaders.

The president is will give a press conference later today.