President Waheed visited by German and US ambassadors, and UNICEF director

Germany’s new Ambassador to the Maldives, Jurgen Morhad, yesterday presented his credentials to President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, the President’s Office has reported.

The President thanked the new ambassador for Germany’s contribution to the tourism industry and its assistance in dealing with environmental problems.

The current issues facing the Maldives young democracy were also discussed.

“Highlighting the political, social, and fiscal challenges being faced in the country today, President Waheed underlined the importance of conducting capacity building programmes for the youth. He noted that such programmes would in turn solve the unemployment issues in the Maldives,” read a release on the office’s website.

Social issues were also discussed when the President welcomed Karin Hulshof, UNICEF’s Regional Director for South Asia.

Waheed briefed the director on the steps being taken to meet the UN’s Millennium Development Goals whilst Hulshof emphasised the importance of raising drug awareness within the school system.

In a busy day, the President also welcomed US Ambassador Michele J. Sison who was briefed on the measures being taken to increase security and safety in the country following the murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali.


US Ambassador mediates between President and opposition parties

President Mohamed Nasheed met last night with four of the country’s opposition parties, in a meeting arranged by US Ambassador Patricia Butenis to try and resolve the current deadlock between the executive and the legislature.

The US Ambassador recently attended the July 4 Independence Day celebrations at the Holiday Inn in Male’, organised by the Embassy. During the event, President Nasheed addressed Speaker of the Majlis Abdulla Shahid, saying he “is an honest man. We may have issues but I would like to work with him.”

Last night, representatives from the People’s Alliance (PA),Dhivehi Quamee Party (DQP), Jumhooree Party (JP), along with Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim and leader of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, met the president in a private meeting.

The President attended the meeting alone “and kept his own minutes”, a senior government official said.

Spokesperson for the US Embassy in Colombo, Jeffery Anderson, later confirmed that Ambassador Butenis arranged the meeting “between the President and the main opposition party”, but provided no further information.

Foreign embassies and international bodies have been eyeing the Maldives nervously ever since Nasheed accepted resignation letters from his cabinet in front of the media last week, fearing his actions could signal a reversion of the country’s nascent democracy.

Political Advisor for the President Hassan Afeef has confirmed the meeting took place, but would not discuss further details.

The President reportedly met DRP MP and Parliamentary Speaker Abdulla Shahid on an earlier occasion. Shahid said he did not attend last night’s meeting, and Thasmeen was not responding to calls at time of press.

Press Secretary for the President, Mohamed Zuhair, meanwhile claimed that “a new cabinet” will be established once the government has overcome the problems it faced.

“The cabinet resigned after accusing parliament of having a spirit of altering votes in exchange for money, and felt they were obstructed in their duties by the Majlis,” he said.

Under Secretary for the President’s Office, Ibrahim Rasheed, said that “corruption cannot be solved by discussing it with people who have already committed it.”

He also said that the government was “ready to discus and solve the issues” and called on the political parties to cooperate with the government in its effort to eliminate corruption.


US Ambassador speaks on the current government’s practices

US Ambassador to the Maldives Patricia Butenis has said that because the current government is open to listening to the international community the country is improving, reports Miadhu.

Butenis said she understands the challenges the government is facing. She added that the previous government had not showed as much commitment as the current government in addressing major issues.

The ambassador said however the current government needs to address some issues urgently, specifically copyright laws, labour rights, and standarising current laws and regulations with international practices.

Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed also met with Butenis yesterday morning at the President’s Office.

They spoke about strengthening bilateral relations between the US and Maldives, and discussed the upcoming Donor Conference (Maldives Partnership Forum) which is to be held at the end of March.

Dr Waheed thanked the ambassador for facilitating the Investment Incentive Agreement (IIA) signed yesterday by Ambassador Butenis and Minister for Economic Development Mohamed Rasheed.

The IIA will allow preferential investment opportunities for US firms wanting to finance projects in the Maldives.

Ambassador Butenis expressed interest in expanding the American Corner at the National Library.