Forty percent of manifesto complete, claims MDP

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) claimed at its congress last weekend that 40 percent of the party’s manifesto had been implemented since the party took office in 2008.

MDP spokesperson Ahmed Haleem told Minivan News that the congress was “very successful”, with launch of the local council election campaign representing “major progress” towards the upcoming local council elections.

During the congress the MDP launched a “Youth Wing’’ and a ‘’Womens’ Spirit Wing’’, which Minivan News understands intends to encourage “positive discrimination” towards involving women in politics.

Haleem said more than 1000 delegates took part in the congress including observers.

“All delegates were selected through primaries, unlike how it is done in other political parties in the country,’’ he said. “Other parties just call their friends to be delegates or hold a little primary at the event.”

Speaking at the Congress, President Mohamed Nasheed outlined dates for the construction of housing, claiming he would lay the foundation for flats in Male’ on November 10, the foundation for 1000 flats in Hulhumale on November 11, and 500 flats in the atolls.

A further 1000 flats would be built with the assistance of Korean aid, he said.

He also noted that projects such as land reclamation, harbour development and sewerage works were not included in the manifesto, but were also being implemented. Harbour developments had been completed in 27 islands since the party took office, Nasheed said, while further harbour developments were currently occuring at 11 islands. Projects would commence in Hoarafushi, Ihavandhoo and Dhiffushi in November, he said.

Speaking on corruption, Nasheed noted that years of accumulated corruption could not be dismissed in two years. But, he said,  “a good governance system without torture is now being created in the Maldives. The government has done away with revenge.”

MDP’s election manifesto consists of five core pledges: ‘nationwide transport’, ‘affordable living costs’, ‘affordable housing’, ‘affordable quality healthcare’, and the ‘prevention of narcotics abuse and trafficking’.

Criticising the the government’s achievements, opposition Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) MP Ahmed Mahlouf claimed that the 40 percent implementation of the pledges announced at the congress “was more like five percent.”

“I think it’s very clearly not true,” he said. “What we saw at the MDP Congress was some deleagates criticising the President for giving dates for the launch of projects because they knew it was going to make it difficult for them to campaign.”

Mahlouf noted that while the number of poor registered in Male’ in 2008 was 2000, “now it has increased to 9000.”

“Nasheed also promised to bring down the price of goods – but now it costs Rf 300 for a kilogram of chilli. I was shocked.”

Mahlouf further claimed that the DRP had attempted “to help the MDP implement its manifesto by ensuring there was a free state media, run by a board determined by parliament, but they were against it.”

Mahlouf also noted that as for the promise to tackle corruption, “Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index now ranks the country next to Zimbabwe.”

The government contends the index reflects a growing awareness that corruption is a problem.

Image: Maurouf Khaleel


Maldives’ youth delegates return from Copenhagen

Three of the four young climate delegates from the Maldives have returned from representing the island nation at the youth climate conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The event preceded the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference (COP 15) that began today, where 192 parties are meeting with the intention of formulating an agreement to stabilise the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Organisers hope the conference will prove as successful as COP3 in 1997, known as the Kyoto Protocol, which led to agreements on mandatory emission reductions.

Aishath Shifana, Mohamed Ansar and Aminath Riuman Wasif returned home on Sunday while the fourth Maldivian delegate, Mohamed Axan Maumoon, will remain in Denmark for a several more days after being chosen to meet the Danish Prime Minister.

Axan is revelling in his role as youth climate ambassador of the Maldives, appearing on award-winning US news program Democracy Now, the largest community media collaboration in North America.

“On the basis that you know what you are doing is wrong and you can see that the victim is begging for mercy, would you commit murder?” Axam asked the program’s viewers.

The other school students were welcomed home at the UN building by Education Minister Dr Mustafa Lutfy and UN staff including Mansoor Ali, Unicef representative to the Maldives.

Mansoor urged them to “keep up the momentum”, by trying to engage more of their contemporaies in tackling climate change, pledging the support of Unicef, while Lutfy offered the support of the education ministry to buoy the efforts of the schools’ climate clubs.

“I hope the trip was useful from an individual perspective as well as anchoring your efforts into the future,” Mansoor said, adding that he hoped the students had also had time to see Denmark.

Officer-in-charge of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in the Maldives, Dr Arun Kashyap, suggested the students continue to work together and develop a proposal for a youth climate summit to be held in the Maldives.

Coping in Copenhagen

The Maldivian delegates explore a forest in Denmark
The Maldivian delegates explore a forest in Denmark

During the week-long visit to Denmark, over 200 delegates aged 14-17 from 42 countries set up stands in Copenhagen town hall promoting their country’s efforts to combat climate change. The Maldivian delegates confessed theirs “was one of the most popular”, with many people fascinated by the immediate threat climate change and sea level rise poses for the low-lying island nation.

“It was very interesting to see how people responded to the issue of sea level rise,” Wasif explained. “Everyone kept saying: ‘we’d better go and see the Maldives before it is under the sea.'”

The Maldivians’ response, Ansar said, was to say “we don’t want to be under the sea. We’re an innocent [party] suffering from the actions of developed countries.”

The students’ enthusiasm for their subject was quickly picked up by the attending media and the group were inundated with interviews throughout their time in Denmark, frequently making national headlines.

There were a lot of journalists and we were always busy with interviews,” Ansar said. “I don’t think we’ll ever be afraid of journalists again,” he laughed. The trick, he explained, was “to talk normally, as you would to a friend.”

Seeing an opportunity to gain support from the education ministry, Shifana asked Lutfy to “please give the school climate clubs more support, because they are the least popular clubs in school.”

“We would like more students to join and be as interested in the environment as we are,” she said.

The four students were chosen from across the Maldives. A short-list of 10 competed in a quiz broadcast on TVM, from which the final four were selected.