Nasheed pays an official visit to newly elected Sri Lankan President and Prime Minister

President Mohamed Nasheed has paid an official visit to the newly elected Sri Lankan President Sirisena Maithiripala.

At the meeting held in the President’s Office in Colombo this morning, Nasheed congratulated Sirisena on his electoral victory and the Sri Lankan people for the peaceful transition of power.

Nasheed was accompanied by opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) chairperson Ali Waheed, former Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid, former foreign minister Ahmed Naseem, and former health minister Dr Aminath Jameel.

President Nasheed also met with newly elected Prime Minister Ranil Wikramasinghe this afternoon.

Before departing to Sri Lanka earlier this week, Nasheed noted that the newly elected ruling United National Party (UNP) is a sister party to the MDP through the International Democratic Union, adding that was a privilege that a like-minded party is ruling in “our closest neighbor”.

He also expressed confidence in positive assistance and aid from Sri Lanka to the Maldives in general terms, and particularly with regards to consolidating democracy.


We must once again rise up to defend the Constitition, says Nasheed

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed has stated that the actions of the government are undermining the constitution.

Nasheed listed numerous decisions such as the removal of Supreme Court judges, “violations of the Public Finance Act”, “narrowing of fundamental freedoms and rights”, rising religious fundamentalism and extremism, and “isolation from the international world community”.

The MDP party president gave the brief statement before his departure to meet Prime Minister Ranil Wikramasinghe and officials from the new Sri Lankan administration after the surprise victory of Maithiripala Sirisena in last week’s presidential elections.

Nasheed noted that the United National Party (UNP) is a sister party to the MDP through the International Democratic Union and that it is a privilege that a like-minded political party is ruling in “our closest neighbor”, with countless cultural, family, and economic ties.

He also expressed confidence in positive assistance and aid from Sri Lanka to the Maldives in general terms, and particularly in consolidating democracy.

Nasheed said the 2008 Constitution is the symbol of the Maldivian people’s desire for a better Maldives, and that it was the result of much suffering and hard work by the Maldivian people.

He also called on all political parties, international partners, NGOs, and all Maldivian citizens to show solidarity in rising up to defend the Constitution.

“My wish is especially for Jumhooree Party to join MDP and for Adhaalath Party to also be involved in this work”, Nasheed said.

Responding to questions from journalists on whether any official talks have been held between Jumhooree Party lead by MP Gasim Ibrahim and the MDP, Nasheed revealed that brief talks had been held between the two parties, though no further details were revealed.

The MDP currently holds 22 seats in the 85 member Majlis, while the JP has 13 MPs. The Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and its partner – the Maldivian Development Alliance – currently hold 48 seats.

After initially announcing that the party would remain neutral following Gasim’s defeat in the twice-held first round of the 2013 presidential elections, the JP’s council decided to endorse Abdulla Yameen three days before the second round, winning the Progressive Party of Maldives candidate the presidency.

However, the JP’s coalition agreement with the PPM was soon severed by the latter after Gasim stood for the post of parliament speaker in May last year. A purge of JP ministers was followed by the defection of two of the party’s cabinet member to the former ally.

After the MDP passed a resolution calling for Gasim to assume the presidency as an interim leader last month, the Prosecutor General Muhuthaz Muhsin ordered the Elections Commission to take all legal action possible against it, labelling the party “irresponsible”.

Following the Supreme Court judges removal and the MDP’s resolution, local NGO Transparency Maldives released a statement expressing “grave concern” at the trend of undemocratic practices in the country.

Related to this story

Transparency Maldives notes “grave concern” over undemocratic trends

ICJ says Majlis has “decapitated the country’s judiciary”

PG orders Elections Commission to reprimand MDP for resolution on transfer of power


President considers access for Sri Lankan vessels, rejects US military deal

President Abdulla Yameen has agreed to “explore the possibility” of giving innocent passage to Sri Lankan fishing vessels through Maldivian waters under the UN Law of the Sea, the Sri Lankan government has said.

Yameen is currently on a three-day official state visit to the Maldives’ closest neighbour.

During the visit, the president is also reported to have revealed his decision to reject the US proposal for a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which some had feared would see the establishment of a US military base in the country.

“There have been discussions before… we are not going to pursue it,” Yameen was quoted as telling media in Colombo.

Minister at the President’s Office Mohamed Hussain Shareef has told media the agreement was rejected for fear of upsetting both Sri Lanka and India.

“We have told them that we can’t do it because both India and Sri Lanka are also not happy with it,” Shareef was quoted as saying.

An arrangement to allow the use of Maldivian waters for Sri Lankan vessels was made during President Mohamed Nasheed’s term, being met with harsh criticism from Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) – the parent party of President Yameen’s  Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

The issue was debated in the parliament at the time, with some MPs saying that the Maldives did not have the capacity to identify and stop foreign vessels fishing illegally fishing, and that such an agreement could further complicate monitoring of the economic zone.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, there should not be any fishing activities during an ‘innocent passage’ through territorial sea of a country.

Just two weeks after he concluded a visit to neighboring India, Yameen is now visiting Sri Lanka following an invitation from his counterpart Mahindha Rajapaksa. Official talks between the two leaders have focused on expanding trade relations between the two countries and bilateral cooperation at international level.

Strengthening cooperation in areas including banking, finance, fisheries, agriculture, tourism, education, health, defence, maritime and culture were also discussed.

During the talks the two countries agreed to expedite the exchange of prisoners and to explore the possibility of removing travel visa requirements.

President Yameen assured the Maldives’ support to Sri Lanka at international and regional forums of common membership, and highlighted the importance of working together at international level in dealing with issues of mutual concern.

President Rajapaksa assured Sri Lanka’s support for development programs in Maldives, and agreed to provide more placements for Maldivian students in Sri Lankan universities, as well as offering training facilities in professional institutions and defence training centres.

Meeting the Sri Lankan Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen, Yameen discussed the importance of reviving the Sri Lanka-Maldives Joint Economic Commission at the earliest opportunity. Sri Lankan Fisheries Minister Dr Rajitah Senaratne also urged the Maldives to purchase boats from Sri Lanka.

Three agreements were signed between Maldives and Sri Lanka following the official talks – a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on combating Transnational Crime and Developing Police Cooperation between Sri Lanka and the Maldives, an MoU for Vocational Training and Skills Development between Sri Lanka and the Maldives and an MoU on Sports Cooperation between Sri Lanka and Maldives.