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UN Expresses Worry Over Increased Polarisation In Maldives; Here’s What Others Said In Past

in News/Politics by

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern on the increasing polarisation in the Maldives, which has made dialogue among the Government and political parties increasingly difficult. This is the second time during the year when UN chief expressed concern over the increasingly autocratic regime under President Abdulla Yameen.

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Ban Ki-moon in a statement released on Saturday said:

The Secretary-General strongly encourages all concerned to work toward an inclusive dialogue aimed at finding mutually acceptable solutions based on compromise, the primacy of the national interest and the preservation of democratic principles and institutions.

Earlier in May, Ban had also expressed the need to establish political dialogue among all stakeholders and urged the Maldivian government to grant clemency to former president Mohamed Nasheed who was locked up in Maafushi jail that time.

Besides the apex human rights body, other human rights watchdog had been expressing concern over the deteriorating political situation in the country. Here’s what all has been said so far:


On Muzzling Political Voice


In September, CHRI said that the nations is sliding into a dictatorial system once again and the situation will soon push the island nation into the brink of and anarchy.

Suspend, exclude and halt the current government.

Following CHRI’s report Commonwealth had put the Maldives on agenda and threatened suspension by March next year. However, President and his men decided to leave the Commonwealth on October 13.

In August, United States’ lawmakers slammed government by saying that the legitimate political space is “narrowing” in the country. The US blamed government’s intolerance for putting many opposition politicians behind bars adding that they are being sent to jail after flawed judicial processes.

’s Special Convoy to the , also warned government of international consequences and said that the country facing “severe deficit”.

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein at the 32nd Human Rights Council session in Geneva in July had expressed concern about the “shrinking democratic space” in the country and said the use of terrorism related charges “troubled” him.

In July, European Union opposed to capital punishment in “all cases and without exception” and urged government to continue to apply the “’de facto moratorium’” on executions as a first step towards its abolition.


Death Penalty


Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein also expressed worry over implementation of death penalty in the country. He also cited the “flagrant irregularities” in Humam’s trial, describing it as “a rushed process that appears to contravene the Maldives’ own laws and practices and international fair trial standards in a number of respects.”

U.N. logo pattern a press conference background at the United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)


Four United Nations human rights experts in July also urged the government to halt the execution of Hussain Humam Ahmed, and to re-try him in compliance with international standards.They called on the authorities to uphold the unofficial moratorium on capital punishment in force for the last six decades.

Criminal proceedings against Mr. Ahmed did not afford him guarantees of fair trial and due process,” said the independent experts on arbitrary detention, summary executions, torture and independence of the judiciary. The implementation of a death sentence following judicial procedures which do not respect the most stringent guarantees of fair trial and due process is unlawful and tantamount to an arbitrary execution.

Freedom Of Press


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, the international watchdog for press freedom, had termed the ’ government’s assault on the country’s independent “utterly absurd and unacceptable”. The organization slammed President ’s regime after a court banned former journalists with the now-defunct newspaper, Haveeru, from working at any other organization, saying it could only lead to authoritarianism and the end of democracy.

Benjamin Ismaïl, head of Asia-Pacific desk at the RSF, said:

The court’s verdict not only violates the fundamental rights of all the journalists which it targets, but it also confirms, if need be, that the judiciary is serving the government’s policy to suppress critical and independent media in the country.

Maldives has been ranked 112th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2015 World Press Freedom Index, after falling 60 places since 2010.


Nasheed’s Trial & Human Right Abuses


In May, European Union adopted a resolution to adopt a resolution seeking imposition of sanctions on the country, the government has hit back calling it “inappropriate” and “irresponsible”.

Nasheed


The resolution was passed condemning the frequent “human rights abuses” committed during President Abdulla Yameen’s regime.

Around same time, an official fact-finding mission report prepared by the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) raised questions over the arrest of former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed saying that it was without legal basis and that he must be provided with a transparent appeal hearing.

Renowned human rights body Amnesty International termed the conviction of Nasheed after a deeply flawed and politically motivated trial is a “travesty of justice.”

To Invest Or Not: GMR Fiasco At Hands Of Yameen & Friends Leave Indian Investors Nervous, Non-Committal

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At the lavish Ashoka Palace in the Indian capital New Delhi, visuals of clear turquoise water, white beaches, exciting under-water experience and boduberu dance set the mood for the delegates of over 400 companies who were here to attend the third edition of Maldives Investment Forum on Tuesday.

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Government in its keynote address tried to recapture the confidence of Indian investors as apprehension was running high due to the abrupt termination of international contract with GMR Infrastructure Ltd.

Government said they were ready to promote a transparent, hassle-free and liberal trading and investment environment and will welcome investment from India with open arms. ” The government is committed to change its legal framework to allow trade and investment to diversify economy and there has been massive progress on the infrastructure front,” Vice President Abdulla Jihad said.

“I want to assure all potential investors that Maldives is open for business. It is open 24 hours,” he added.

Even though the delegates looked impressed and were confident about the potential of doing business in the Maldives, the GMR fiasco held them back from committing immediately.

“No doubt, the Maldives looks like a dream destination for doing business. But, I would like to know more about the legal and bilateral aspects before we move forward,” said a delegate while looking at his info kit on investing in the Maldives

Another delegate who was here to explore the possibilities of investing in telecom services said, “It is very important to have a set up where we can feel secure about investing money in a certain project. Let’s see how it rolls.”

The concern over providing a conductive environment to do business in the Maldives also appeared in Indian newspapers. A leading Indian business paper Mint wrote, “The memory of the Maldives government abruptly terminating a India-Malaysia joint venture for modernising the Male airport in 2012 saw Indian industry seeking greater predictability and protection for investments in the Maldives… The cancellation of the deal had soured ties between India and the Maldives.”

Last month, GMR won a lawsuit over termination of contract to run Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA).  In a major embarrassment, government was ordered to pay USD 250 million to Indian infrastructural company GMR by a 3-member Singaporean Arbitration Tribunal in its final order.

The third edition of the investment forum was held in partnership with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) to seek investments in infrastructural development, airport expansion and various other sectors to boost job creation in the country.

Jihad also announced that the country will sign its first free trade agreement early next year to boost trade and cooperation with other countries.

“It is investment, both foreign and domestic that has transformed our economy and elevated to current position. On the strength of our past achievements, the government is looking into new investments and is actively seeking foreign direct investment as it is one of the fundamental driving forces of Government policies,” he added.

The annual Maldives Investment Forum was held in Singapore in 2014 and in Beijing last year. The next edition of the forum will be held in Doha, Qatar.

My President Is A Respected Economist, Says Maldivian Economic Development Minister In New Delhi!!!!

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“President Yameen is a respected economist…,” this is how Minister of Economic Development Mohamed Saeed introduced his president at Maldives Investment Forum in the Indian capital New Delhi on Tuesday.

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“President Abdulla Yameen is a respected economist under whose governance GDP and per capita income have improved, ” he went on to add while facing uncomfortable questions from reporters on the sidelines of the event.

However, the qualifications of Yameen – infamous as an increasingly autocratic President – are bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a master’s degree in Public Policy, not exactly good enough to hail him as an economist!

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And off late, Yameen has been accused of large-scale money-laundering and muzzling political voices with his strong arm tactics and misuse of the local courts.

But Saeed insisted that “he (Yameen) is a well-informed leader who is focused on  bringing social harmony through development and job creation” while avoiding pointed questions on eroded international image of his country.

The interaction with the reporters in New Delhi during the Maldives Investment forum came across as another embarrassment as ministers in the Yameen’s cabinet jump from one faux pax to another.

While asked about the corruption charges facing President Yameen, Saeed’s response came from a scripted note, which had no relation to the questions being asked to the minister.

Speaking on similar lines as his boss Yameen, Saeed also expressed the government’s collective desire to make the Maldives the next Singapore (interestingly something that Yameen’s half-brother and mentor Maumoon Gayoom does not approve!)

“We are not comparing the Maldives to Singapore… but it does translate into the desire to look up to Singapore,” Saeed said while he pitched for greater investment in the Maldivian tourism and infrastructure.

Contrary to the reports of World Bank that the Maldivian economy had slowed down in 2015 and  figures on fiscal deficits and public debt were sobering, Saeed claimed that in Yameen’s three-year tenure there was a steady growth in GDP and public debt has been fixed.

Maldives To Blast Coral Reef Even As It Attends COP22 To ‘Save The Climate’

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At a time when 197 representatives  — including the Maldives– have gathered at 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) in Morocco to discuss climate change, government’s decision to blast coral reef of Addu City using dynamite has received flak from the opposition and people of the country triggering online campaign against it.

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The Environment Protect Agency on Wednesday asked the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to approve the use of dynamite to blast the reef project to dredge the channel between the islands of Meedhoo and Ismahelahera states.

The EIA had earlier recommended the government to seek alternatives saying the use dynamite can be dangerous and should not be used.

The main-opposition Maldivian Democratic Party criticising government for “reneging” on its international commitments said that the action will cause “irreversible damage”. The party also urged government to respect its international commitments.

“Disregarding the EIA recommendations, it is deeply worrying the Minister of Environment has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve the use of dynamite to blast the reef in Meedhoo…. It is deeply troubling the Maldives government is engaged in activities that will further cause irreversible damage.”” MDP said in the statement issued on Saturday.

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Ahmed Saleem at COP22


Maldivians took Twitter to run an online campaign to bring the attention of the ongoing COP22 where Ahmed Saleem is currently representing the Maldives and Alliance of Small Island States (AIOSIS).


According to Act on Environment Protection using dynamite for blasting coral reefs is an offence punishable by huge fees.

The practice of blasting coral reefs was discontinued by former President Maumoon Gayoom in the Maldives due to its negative impact on the environment.

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More than 60% of coral in reefs in the Maldives has been hit by “bleaching” as the world is gripped by record temperatures in 2016 due a strong “El Nino” phenomenon, the Guardian reported in August. The Maldives which is just 4 feet above sea level contains around 3% of the world’s coral reefs and is considered particularly at risk due climate change and sea level rises.

Shoko Noda, UNDP Representative of Maldives had also tweeted asking for action on climate change ahead of COP22.

UNDP Maldives also called for action on climate change saying that livelihoods and economy in the Maldives depend on natural resources.

PPM Falls Apart On Its 5th Anniversary But Twitter Is Excited About The Cake

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ppm-cake

PPM’s fifth anniversary cake took center stage on Thursday even as ex-President Maummon Abdul Gayoom withdrew support from President Abdulla Yameen-led government.

The cake, which was earlier reported to have spoiled by police forces, was later cut by Maumoon with his wife Nasreena.

As the PPM Crisis took unprecedented turn on Thursday, Twitter could not stop obsessing about the cake to take dig at the Gayoom brothers.

Election Commission Scraps Plan To Introduce E-Voting In Local Council Elections

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Local council elections scheduled in January next year will have traditional voting as the Election Commission has decided to scrap the plans to introduce e-voting following criticism from opposition parties.

election


The Election Commission on Tuesday announced that the decision was taken after appeals from political parties who had threatened to boycott the elections if e-voting took place.

Both Maldivian Democratic Party and Jumhooree Party had expressed concern over implementation of e-voting and alleged rigging.

MDP had said that it would not contest the elections alleging that e-voting will allow government and ruling parties to rig the elections.  MDP maintained that e-voting was unnecessary “in a country with a small voting population where results are announced within a few hours.”

Earlier in May, European Union ambassador to Maldives and Sri Lanka, David Daley had put question mark over the preparedness to implement the electronic system following which the then Home Minister Umar Naseer assured that the decision won’t be implemented until and unless people agreed.

The opposition to implement e-voting gained momentum when the former President of the Elections Commission, Fuad Thaufeeq, voiced his concern saying that the people of the Maldives have lost confidence in the institution and that there was no need of introducing electronic voting in the island nation.

The local council elections are scheduled to take place from January 14 next year.

The elections headquarters are most likely to be set up at Jamalludeen school building in Malé.

The commission also notified that the process of filing nomination will be online and the candidates can file their application before November 15.

According to the electoral body, 563 councillors will be elected to 179 island councils, 67 councillors to 18 atoll councils, and 23 councillors to three city councils, Maldives Independent reported.

In last election in 2014, MDP won 41.5 per cent votes with 457 seats while ruling PPM won 25.5 per cent with 281 seats.

Other parties Jumhooree Party and Maldives Democratic Alliance who were PPM’s coalition partner won 11.4 per cent and 5.4 per cent votes respectively. The Adhaalath Party won 45 seats making it to 4.1 per cent.

Maldives: It’s Back To Square One!

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Even as reactions continue to pour in over the weekend on Maldives’ decision to exit the Commonwealth, alleging ‘unfair and unjust treatment’, the leadership of President Abdulla Yameen has moved on with the next political move, this one nearer home. The Yameen faction of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) got a civil court order removing former President and half-brother, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, as party head and replacing the latter’s team with another one of the President’s choice.
chri

On the opposition’s front, yet another former President, Mohammed ‘Anni’ Nasheed, too shed all semblances of fighting for democracy in the Maldives. From his overseas home in the UK, where he has been granted political asylum after jumping prison-leave for spinal surgery, Nasheed’s legal team has announced their decision to move UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, on a near-single point, for him to be able to contest the presidential polls, now due in 2018.

The Nasheed decision followed the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group’s (CMAG) inability to initiate any ‘action’ of the kind that his camp had envisaged against the Yameen government through its three meetings in the current year. The CMAG’s next meeting is fixed for March 2017 when it had threatened to take Maldives on its agenda to deny the nation participation in Commonwealth Council meetings and the rest.
EU Parliament 1

Nasheed’s decision to move the UNHRC also came only days before the Yameen government declared that it was quitting the Commonwealth. If earlier the Nasheed camp might have indicated that the Commonwealth was a toothless tiger, if at all, the Yameen decision has indicated that all CMAG initiatives of whatever kind have become infructuous with retrospective effect.

In a way, Nasheed’s team seemed to have foreseen the possibilities before moving the UNHRC, though it’s unclear if they had any specific information that Yameen would act faster on the Commonwealth front than anticipated – that’s ahead of the March session. On other related spheres, too, the government has acted quick and fast, dropping all links to the Commonwealth. Maldivian missions overseas have now become Embassies in the place of High Commissions, a term linked to the membership of the Commonwealth.
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With all this, Yameen seems to have reduced his ‘development’ agenda into a single-point scheme to be able to contest – and win – a second term, the highest under the existing 2008 constitution. Nasheed too has reduced all talks of democracy and ‘inclusive elections’ to include his name alone – or, also – in the ballot for 2018 polls. With their current moves thus, they have shed the fig-leaf of fighting for a cause, whatever it be, and have reduced it all into a fight for personal supremacy, which is what it had been from day one.

It’s anybody’s guess if the UNHRC could move any faster than the Commonwealth on Nasheed’s initiative, and provide for ‘inclusive’ elections of the kind that he and his followers within the larger Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) wants. Old Maldives hands would recall how Nasheed in his own way had ‘hijacked’ the MDP and with that the larger democracy plank when the Gayoom presidency was seemingly unending and autocratic.
Nearer home, thus, it’s equally unclear if there are other presidential aspirants in the MDP, who may want to contest the party primaries ahead of the 2018 polls, or would they unanimously adopt his name, as they did – or, were forced to do – in 2013. If Nasheed were allowed to contest the next presidential polls, whatever the ways and reasons, would his camp revive the earlier posturing that his first term remained incomplete after his resignation/coup in February 2012, is another politico-constitutional question that the party too may need to address, early on.
Even as the government was preparing to announce Maldives’ exit from the Commonwealth, the Yameen-majority PPM parliamentary group initiated motions of political rapprochement between the governmental and organisational wings. Or, so did it seem at the time. They called for brothers Yameen and Gayoom to patch up differences, and asked for time to meet with both.

Photo Courtesy: President's Office


 Yameen gave time, and Gayoom did not – and that was enough for the Yameen camp to move the civil courts and obtain an order, unseating Gayoom from his party presidency. Earlier, the parliamentary group stuck to their sacking Gayoom’s older son, Faraas, from membership and declared his disqualification to represent PPM in the all-party negotiations, purportedly revived by the government, post-CMAG.
Today, the all-party negotiations have lost their relevance in the Commonwealth’s context, but may still remain, even as a lip-service by all, given the government’s continued commitment to stay ‘engaged’ with the international community. Kenyan Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, who resigned to take up the Commonwealth Special Rapporteur assignment for Maldives, may be ‘unemployed’ just now, but that need not be the case with the UN special envoy, Tamrat Samuel.
A lot however would depend on which way the Yameen leadership on the one hand, and the MDP-led political opposition on the other, and the Gayoom camp, on the third could turn, and turn up, on the all-party negotiations. Already, all sections have gone back on their perceived post-CMAG commitments. The government has continued with pre-conditions that convicts could not be named (say, by the MDP) to rep resent them. The MDP too has harped on the same, after enthusiastically accepting the government’s invitation – but leaving it to the leadership to decide the party nominees for the talks.
Dunya Gayoom (3)

Just now, the Gayoom’s camp’s legal and political positions are unclear. Maumoon is expected to challenge his court-ordered removal as PPM head in higher judicial forums. Alongside and alternatively, he can be expected to consider floating a new party – the third since 2008 – and still nominate son Faraas to the political negotiations, if invited. Yameen’s foe-turned-friend-turned-foe of the past five years, former Home Minister Umar Naseer, too is hoping to be nominated for the presidential polls by the Gayoom camp, making it politically difficult for Gayoom to keep it within the family, still.

After distancing itself from Nasheed’s early claims to an emerging/existing alliance against Yameen, the Gayoom camp surprised followers and foes alike by participating in a recent all-opposition news conference against the nation’s Election Commission – and by extension, the incumbent government. They were protesting against the EC delaying/denying funds disbursements for recognised political parties, as laid down under the 2008 constitution, citing what they considered were ‘extraneous reasons’.
The EC however has threatened to de-recognise parties whose leaders were living overseas and were not available to update Commission documents and electoral lists’ as required. Nasheed and his associates in the MDP-led Maldives United Opposition (MUO), apart from the parties that they lead, are candidates for such de-recognition. Would the MDP and other parties in the EC’s list ‘elect’ leaders for an interim period, which could extend indefinitely, if only to be on EC’s records of recognised political parties authorised to contest future elections, is the question they should be asking themselves.
Over the medium-term, however, with Nasheed out of the country and prison without authorisation, and continuing to remain ‘disqualified’ from contesting the elections, any alternative arrangement  is for the MDP to make and in good time. Independent of the ‘terrorism’ trial that was heaped on Nasheed for what r remained an ordinary criminal trial in the ‘Judge Adbulla abduction case’ dating back to the former’s months as president, the inability of the international community to have an ‘inclusive’ election as he has now envisaged, could flag political, rather than diplomatic issues of their own.
Hopes now thus lie more on the effective revival of the political negotiations, under UN care than on any UNHRC initiatives. There again, the government has been maintaining stoic silence on the continued relevance of the UN group on arbitrary detentions naming Nasheed’s as ‘one’, which it had condemned unequivocally when made. None of the stake-holders, including the UN, can ride on multiple tigers, and hope to reach their destination, purportedly common.
It’s back to square one – who winks first, if at all, how and for how long, and who does not. In context, Maldives quitting the Commonwealth, and the latter feeling saddened about what anyway was in the making, and the UK as the Commonwealth’s founder and eternal chair, too feeling upset, have only academic relevance just now.
So are all the protests and criticisms of the Maldivian exit from the Commonwealth, both from within and outside the country….at least until the other stakeholders have a point to make, and make it loud, clear and effectively in ways the Maldivian state apparatus and the Yameen leadership hear, understand, and are compelled to act upon.  The irony is that the solution to the Maldivian imbroglio lies within, and international diplomacy can only take it away not closer to the ‘collective goal’, which is just not there, either.

(N. Sathiya Moorthy is Director, Chennai Chapter of the Observer  Research Foundation.  The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FocusMaldives.)
This article was originally published on South Asia Monitor. It has been republished with permission.

Prez Yameen Raises Death Sentence Again, Vows To Implement Before His Tenure Ends

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“With the will of Allah, Maldives will implement the death penalty under my presidency,” were the words of President Abdulla Yameen on his first address on Monday since August this year.

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President Yameen who is persistent on implementing death penalty in the country earlier on July 4 had spoken for the first time on the issue and said that it was in the interest of the people in the country after which he faced flak from Maldivians who took Twitter to campaign against it using #NotInMyName.

He also denounced human rights group’s criticism on reintroduce death penalty and hit our at media for “destroying” the country.

The decision to reintroduce capital punishment not only received flak from country based watchdogs and activists but also international community including United Nations, European Union and the United Nations.

United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein expressing concern on death penalty had said it was “deeply regrettable” that a series of steps were being taken to resume executions in the country. He also urged government to stick to 60-year-old moratorium.

The United Nations too had asked government to rethink on its decision of implementing .

European Union had, too, opposed the capital punishment in “all cases and without exception” and urged government to continue to apply the “’de facto moratorium’” on executions as a first step towards its abolition.

President Yameen had also received criticism from his own party over his decision. His half brother and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom opposed capital punishment saying that it was against Sharia Law and former Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon resigned in July citing “irreconcilable” differences over implementing the law.

The debate over capital punishment ignited this year after government amended the regulation to carrying out the death sentence in first degree murder cases to incorporated death by hanging along with lethal injections.

Massive support also poured in for 22-year-old Maldivian Hussain Humaam — a contract killer on the verge of being the first Maldivian to get the death sentence for the murder of former parliamentarian and religious scholar Dr Afrasheem Ali.

He was sentenced to death in 2014 for the alleged murder Afrasheem in 2012.

The human rights experts noted in his case that the Maldives Supreme Court upheld the conviction and death sentence on June 24, while the investigation was still ongoing, and that the accusation and the murder verdict was based on a pre-trial confession obtained under duress.

Supreme Court, later in July quashed a plea demanding stay on death penalty calling its regulations valid and constitutional in mid-night judgement.

The Death Penalty Debate: What Is It All About?

Hanging INCORPORATED

hanging


  • The government has amended the regulation to carrying out the death sentence in first degree murder cases to incorporated death by hanging along with lethal injections.

  • The amendment fails to clarify the basis on which the method of implementing death penalty in individual cases.

  • During the enactment of regulation, the government had decided that the death penalty would be implemented by administering lethal injection.

  • Hanging is being incorporated as there were some issues in carrying out death penalty by lethal injection.

  • The amendment to law has been published in the government gazette.

No Timeline

  • When former Home Minister Umar Naseer announced the amendment, he also mentioned the timeline stating that the death sentence would be carried out by hanging within 30 days of Supreme Court’s final verdict but the no such timeline has been mentioned the gazette.

Dual Methods When Maldives Wants None

  • The government has come up with two methods of implementing death penalty but Maldives seems to have rejected it completely.

  • From Opposition MP Eva Abdulla submitting a motion against the decision to European Union expressing concern, Twitter was on a meltdown for quite some time now over the issue.


Humam’s Case: Sentencing First, Investigation Later

hussain humam

  • Hussain Humaam, a contract killer is on the verge of being the first Maldivian to get the death sentence for the murder of former parliamentarian and religious scholar Dr Afrasheem Ali.

  • The irony is that the sentencing is being done despite the family of Dr Afrasheem Ali requesting delay in his sentencing as the investigation is not yet complete.

  • The police are yet to find out who gave Humam the contract to kill Dr Ali.

  • Maldivians say if former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim can be framed and sentenced, so do others and death penalty will come handy for people to avenge which is against Sharia law.

Raudha Athif: Maldivian Girl With Aqua Blue Eyes Makes It To Vogue Cover

in Lifestyle/News by

For 20-year-old Raudha Athif becoming a doctor is a career plan for now, but little did she know that even before she lands up on her dream, she will make the country proud by being featured on the cover of Vouge Magazine.

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Photo Courtesy: Vogue

Two years ago, while experimenting with her pictures on social media she became a sensation in the country as the ‘Maldivian Girl With Aqua Blue Eyes’. It was through the lenses of a photographer named Sotti, her picture — where she is coming out of the turquoise sea — went viral.

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Photo Courtesy: Instagram/raudhaathif

The picture also landed her on the cover of Vogue along with five other women from South Asia. Titled ‘Celebrating Unity In Diversity’ on their ninth anniversary issue this month, Vouge tried to capture the spirit of bold and beautiful women who are not only embracing their individuality but also inspiring others to do so, and Raudha Athif is one of them.

“Besides bringing their individuality to the ramp, these stunning models, some of them aspiring lawyers and doctors, are breaking stereotypes and inspiring others to think big, think strong,” Vouge said.

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Photo Courtesy Instagram/raudhaathif

But, for Raudha, who started modelling as moonlighting along with her medical studies, becoming a doctor is her ultimate dream even as she did her first campaign at the age of 14 to encourage people to ban plastic bags. She told Vogue:

It was a small environmental campaign for our national television network, encouraging people to ban plastic bags in favour of eco-friendly alternatives. Modelling is a hobby rather than a career for me, since I’m studying to become a doctor. I’ve never been so bold as to take part in any big pageant before this.

Along with Raudha, Indian model Pooja Mor, Nepalese model Varsha Thapa, Bangladeshi model Peya Jannatul, Sri Lankan model Shenelle Rodrigo, Bangladeshi model Jannatul Ferdoush Peya, and Bhutanese model Deki Dorji Wangmo were also featured on the cover.

On the news of Raudha being featured in the leading woman’s fashion magazine, Twitter users from the Maldives could not contain their excitement and started congratulating her for the success.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed also took the opportunity to congratulate her for her international recognition.

What ‘The Dark Lord’ Advised Yameen’s Regime To Keep ‘Sunny Side of Life’ Image Intact

in Investigation/Politics by

Former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb had a contact saved in his now infamous gold iPhone as ‘Lord P’. The same gold iPhone that exposed how Adeeb and his mentor-tuned-boss turned-antagonist President Abdulla Yameen were not only involved in high-level corruption but also in wiping off anyone and everyone who did not fall in line — media, politicians, activists and even its own ministers; now has another story to tell: How the two cracked a deal with ‘Lord P’ to shroud the autocratic nature of the government with a well-crafted image of the Maldives’ economic development.

Adeeb's gold iPhone as shown in Al Jazeera's documentary Stealing Paradise
Adeeb’s gold iPhone as shown in Al Jazeera’s documentary Stealing Paradise

But it was not the first time when Yameen agreed to spend a fortune to negate the banana republic impression. Last summer, Yameen signed a lucrative deal with Cherie Blair- wife of former Prime Minister and Labour Party chief Tony Blair- after she was rejected by the first democratically elected President Mohamed Nasheed who had Amal Clooney by his side.

Cherie who was earlier ready to represent Nasheed calling his trial ‘an extraordinary farce’, then agreed to revive Yameen’s image for £ 210,000 (MVR 4,128,292).

Back In 2012 too, right after the coup that toppled Nasheed’s government, another Labour Party member, former Labour Cabinet Minister and former attorney general Baroness Scotland took £ 75,000 (MVR 1,457,366) to advise the then government on avoiding action by Commonwealth in a two-week work contract.

On August 12, 2015, a few days before Yameen got Cherie on board, Adeeb broke a deal ‘Lord P’, who is a professional lobbyist and political adviser, to revamp the image of Yameen’s regime.

‘Lord P’ is no one else but the man who has not only been a Member of Parliament (MP) for Hartlepool for Labour Party but also held a number of Cabinet positions under Prime Ministers Tony Blair.

The man who rebuilt the Labour Party as New Labour before its subsequent victory in the 1997 election.

‘Lord P’ is Peter Mandelson – The Prince of Darkness.

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A report by Daily Mail says that 62-year-old Mandelson held meetings with Adeeb and Yameen to counsel the government on how to “rebuild its public image”.

The British Daily quoting a four-page memo says that Mandelson’s strategic advisory firm Global Counsel suggested the government to deal with the PR crisis by projecting “your vision for the country’s future”.

The memo was dated August 18, four days after the meeting took place between Adeeb and Mandelson at the resort of Gili Lankanfushi.

Headlined as ‘Next Steps’, the memo asking to set up a strategic communication to fix the international image of the Maldives as quoted by Daily Mail read:

The taskforce will benefit from start-up training and development from an external source. This is something we could guide you on as part of our current work with international investors in the Maldives

It also offered to lobby United Nations General Assembly and Commonwealth by “telling an effective story about the Maldives to international audiences”. The advisory firm also said that it would get confidence of the international investors “everywhere from New York and London to Berlin, Paris and Beijing”.

The Memo By Global Counsel
The discussion in Gili Lankanfushi was very useful in scoping out the next steps. What follows in this note assumes that the situation regarding Nasheed can be resolved amicably from the perspective of all relevant stakeholders. The Maldives is a young democracy and recognises it has further to go in order to create the institutions and space to enable democracy to flourish… Reforms to the penal code and judicial system, as well as strengthening the rule of law, are prerequisites to a healthy democracy, and the government is in the process of designing and implementing reforms in these areas that will deliver immediate benefits as well as building the foundations for a stronger democracy in the longer term.

The firm suggested that government can rebuild its image by giving an ‘accurate account’ of the government’s ‘accomplishments’ in the fields of economic stewardship, social reform and environmental protection.

It is unclear if the two went ahead with the big revival plan as Adeeb – in less than two months – was jailed for plotting to assassinate his boss Yameen.

yameen-adeeb


On October 13, when Ying Staton, Global Counsel’s ‘Asia Director’ wrote to Adeeb to figure out when Mandelson and Yameen could speak on phone, he was already in middle of speed boat blast allegations and days ahead only led to his impeachment, arrest and sentencing.

Flamboyant Adeeb, one of the richest politicians, also seen as Yameen’s loyal, also got implicated in one of the country’s biggest corruption scandal with Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC).

An audit report of MMPRC revealed that money as huge as USD 80 million received from leasing islands and resorts meant for the state was siphoned off to private accounts which benefited Adeeb, Yameen, his wife and other politicians.

And it also benefitted Cherie Blair. Omnia had billed Abdulla Ziyath, former managing director of the MMPRC for £ 210,000 (MVR 4,081,265) – the half amount of total fee charged by the firm for a six-month contract.

cherie-1


According to Maldives Independent, government also spent USD 19,293 (MVR 297,510) on visits of Omnia’s barrister Toby Cadman, between June and September.

My work is not yet complete. My work will be completed once the airport and the country is the preferred destination. When my work is done, I want to compare the difference between the services given in the Maldives and Singapore, Dubai – Yameen

Omnia, on the allegation of receiving the money from a company implicated in corruption, said that it terminated six-month contract early due to unpredictable domestic events and is no longer instructed by either the government or the MMPRC.

The whistleblower, Bank of Maldives former manager Gasim Abdul Kareem, who leaked the account details of Score of Flairs (S.O.F) Private Limited which facilitated the transaction between MMPRC and Omnia is now in jail on the charges of unauthorised disclosure customer information.

Adeeb was sentenced to eight years in prison for stealing USD 5,000,000 (MVR 76,850,000) from state coffers besides 15 year jail term for plotting to assassinate Yameen.

Government also hired Washington based lobbyist firm, Podesta Group in September for a sum of USD 300,000 (MVR 4,611,000) and London-based PR firm BTP Advisers in November.

id 18


Even after massive PR exercise Yameen is now isolated by his party men. Though, he is often witnessed talking about economic development and policies as ambitious as making the Maldives the next Singapore and Dubai. At an event in May this year, Yameen said:

My work is not yet complete. My work will be completed once the airport and the country is the preferred destination. When my work is done, I want to compare the difference between the services given in the Maldives and Singapore, Dubai

Battered by its international image, Yameen-led government even launched a programme ‘Visit Maldives Year 2016’ to promote tourism and also enhanced their budget but soon abandoned the ambitious 1.5 million tourist target this year alleging opposition of tarnishing the image of the country.

The government functioning on PR machinery of the west in a bid to revive the image of the country often blames opposition and its leader Nasheed for destroying country’s economy, ironically, calling them the agents of the west. Meanwhile, Nasheed continue to enjoy the support of international rights’ group, journalists and rival of the Labour Party, Conservative Party’s former leader and former Prime Minister David Cameron.

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