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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.

ban


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”.

zeid-raad-al-hussein-1


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.”

Indian Star Katrina Kaif Is In Maldives But Let’s Talk About Maldivians & Their Love For Bollywood!

in Lifestyle/Tourism by

In the Indian media, the Maldives can be a rage when Indian celebrities post their vacation, honeymoon or shooting pictures. This time, it is Katrina Kaif – one of India’s leading actresses – who is making the Maldives trend in India.

The 33-year-old star is here for a photo shoot by Harper’s Bazaar Brides India. and a selfie posted by her designer friend Manish Malhotra on Instagram is being shared widely.

#ShootTime #maldives #beautiful #KatrinaKaif .#MyFirstTime in #maldives #Exciting #SeaPlane #Journey #Experiences #SliceOfLife

A photo posted by Manish Malhotra (@manishmalhotra05) on

Did you spot seaplanes in the background?

The picturesque Maldives has always been one of the top destinations to capture in camera for the Mumbai-based Bollywood industry.

Taking cue from Bollywood’s interest in the country, in 2010, the then tourism minister Toyyid Mohammad proposed turning one of the nation’s islands into shooting studios.

“We have already proposed that one of the islands could be turned into a studio to shoot movies,” Toyyid was quoted as saying in an Indian newspaper in 2010. Though, the plan never took off but Bollywood continued to shoot movies in the Maldives.

Here are five movies shot in exotic locations of the Maldives


Ek Villain

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Ek Villain was shot at Sea of Stars on Vaadhoo Island where the entire beach looks like starry night sky due to a natural phenomenon known as “bioluminescence”.


Kites

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This Hritik Roshan starred movie was shot at the Sultan of Blues yatch.


Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya

maine-pyaar-kyun-kiya

Salman Khan who has a huge fan base in the Maldives as well shot his home-production Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya with Katrina Kaif at Coco Palm Resort. Sea Plane again!


Fight Club- Members Only

fight-club

A song from the movie Fight Club – Members Only was shot at the Chaaya Lagoon Hakuraa Huraa in Meemu Atoll


Samundar

samundar

This 1986 release starring Sunny Deol and Poonam Dhillon was shot at the Bandos Island Resort & Spa now known as Bandos Island.


The love between Bollywood and the Maldives is not one sided. While in mainstream media, the narrative begins and ends with sharing pictures of stars and movies being shot here, the love for Hindi movies, songs and even TV soaps among the Maldivians is fascinating.

Sometimes, this love also translates into a tool to protest against the alleged dictatorship in the country. Last year, some of the MPs played a song ‘Ye Andha Kanoon Hai’ (The law is blind) from 1983 drama starring legendary Amitabh Bachchan to protest against the state-controlled judiciary in the People’s Majlis.

Maldivians are also hooked to radio stations playing Hindi songs.

Even Maldivian Idol – an adaptation of popular British show Pop Idol which became a hit in its maiden season – also witnessed the love for Bollywood when the top three contestants sang a Hindi song with a popular Indian singer Abhijeet.

One can also spot Maldivians dancing on popular Hindi songs. In this video, Suneetha Ali is seen performing the iconic steps of Bollywood heartthrob Madhuri Dixit’s ‘Ek Do Teen’ at a function organised by Raajje TV.

According to a report, not only Indian movies, the ‘saas-bahu’ sagas made by Ekta Kapoor are also popular among Maldivians, especially women.

Mohamed Salih Hassan, General Manager Operations and Project/Director for Adaaran luxury resorts said as quoted in the report, “Local people really like to watch Hindi movies and serials. Stars like Shahrukh, Aamir, Salman and Aishwarya are quite popular among them, including kids.”

The government-owned Olympus Cinema used to screen Hindi movies along with Dhivehi films even it had just a projector and a DVD player. Now, state broadcast network Television Maldives (TVM) screens Hindi movies to entertainment-hungry Maldivians. With home entertainment and cable TV, the love for Bollywood rose in the Maldives.

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.

mif-gmr


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.

saeed


“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!

yameen-qualification


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.

Ex-Prez Nasheed Advocates Need For Low Carbon Strategy At UK’s Heathrow Expansion Protest

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Former President Mohamed Nasheed, the poster boy of climate change in the Maldives, has joined a protest against the expansion of Heathrow airport in the United Kingdom as it would lead to higher CO2 emissions.

nasheed-heathrow


Nasheed joined the protest M4 spur road on Saturday alongside various environment protection agencies and voiced his concerns against possible negative repercussion to the environment from the airport’s expansion.

According to Daily Mail, the protest was part of a day of action by campaigners who are angered by the government’s plans to expand the airport. The day of action included a peaceful rally attended by Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith, impressionist Alistair McGowan.

15 people were later arrested under on suspicion of public order offences. They chanted ‘No ifs, no buts, no third runway’ and ‘No more runways and held placards reading ‘Heathrow expansion will destroy thousands of homes’ and ‘Protect the planet, no more runways’.

Why Trump’s Win Could Be A Good Thing For Maldives?

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trump


The shocking victory of real-estate mogul Donald Trump becoming the 45th President-elect of the United State of America is partly being attributed to that FBI Director James Comey’s announcement of a new investigation against rival Hillary Clinton two weeks before polling day. But Clinton’s campaign was disrupted the maximum by Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks which continues to publish the emails of her campaign chair John Podesta, a major Washington insider.

The whistleblowing website has published close to 56,000 emails from Podesta’s private account since October 7, sometimes more than once a day, revealing the internal communications of Clinton’s campaign staff.

And one of them is linked to the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. John Podesta also owns Washington-based lobbyist firm Podesta Group run by his brother Tony. The firm signed a lucrative deal with the Maldives last September to counsel Abdulla Yameen-led government amid threat of sanctions and was paid USD 50,000 by a company implicated in country’s biggest corruption scandal.

podesta-hillary


And whether or not Trump will act against Clinton, who, he had said during a debate would “be in jail” if he became the president, Podesta can actually be investigated over its links with a money-laundering regime in Maldives.

podestaPodesta, the “superlobbyist” has been accused for “whitewashing” Yameen and his cronies’ crimes, as alleged by opposition and received its fee from state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC).

Podesta was hired by Abdulla Yameen-led government to provide strategic counsel to the government.

The contract with the government published by Podesta Group on the US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) office’s website read, “(Podesta will) provide strategic counsel on strengthening ties (of Maldives) to the US government.”

The deal was cracked at whopping USD 300,000 for a period of six months between September 8, 2015 and March 7, 2016.

Government initially denied reports of hiring Podesta but e-mails containing details of cost negotiations with the firm — sent by Jeffrey Salim Waheed, the deputy permanent representative in New York — were leaked. The then Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon were also marked in the mails.

Adeeb, who brokered may such PR deals for his boss, was in direct communication with Foreign Ministry officials over hiring Podesta. Adeeb was also informed that Podesta wanted its fee to be paid in monthly instalments of USD 50,000.

yameen-adeeb


Even though the deal was called off in October after Adeeb’s arrest on the charges of plotting to assassinate Yameen in boat blast on September 30, Podesta received one-month fee for its services from state tourism promotion company MMPRC.

Documents filed by Podesta at the US Department of Justice disclosed that the firm was paid USD 50,000 from MMPRC.

Later, MMPRC’s former head Abdulla Ziyath was found guilty in money embezzlement USD 80 million from state coffers along with Adeeb.

Podesta, however, was not the only firm to be paid a lucrative fee for polishing the Maldives’ deteriorating image by MMPRC. Cherie Blair’s Omnia Strategy was also paid more than £200,000 for consultancy on “democratic consolidation” to Yameen by the state tourism promotion company.

The main-opposition Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) alleged that the government was spending obscene amounts of public money for image-building.

“Government officials are clearly rattled at the prospect of facing targeted sanctions. But rather than doing the right thing and freeing the political prisoners, they are spending obscene amounts of public money on foreign lobbyists, who will try to whitewash their crimes,” Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, the party’s international spokesman was quoted as saying by Maldives Independent.

In September this year, an investigative documentary by Al-Jazeera exposed embezzlement of money from state coffers to private accounts by illegally leasing islands. The documentary claimed that Yameen and his associates

The secretly filmed interviews describe how on mopeds carried millions in cash to the and his aides with some funds amounting to as large as $1.5 billion.

It’s U-Turn: Ex-HM Umar Naseer Dubs Mohamed Nasheed’s Terror Conviction ‘Unlawful’

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In  a bid to attack President Abdulla Yameen, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s loyalist Umar Naseer. in an apparent u-turn. said that conviction of former President Mohamed Nasheed was “unlawful” fueling speculations of coalition between the two to counter the dictatorial regime.

naseer-1-2


Former Home Minister Umar taking a strong position on PPM’s fifth anniversary said Nasheed’s arrest of judge “was not an act of terrorism,” Maldives Independent reported.

His u-turn on rival Nasheed followed Maumoon’s decision to withdraw support from Yameen-led government alleging authoritarianism and corruption.

Umar who had previously been at loggerheads with Nasheed on various occasions said, “I do not want Mohamed Nasheed to return to the presidency. But justice is justice. He abducted a judge. He abducted the judge as the commander-in-chief. That is not terrorism. That is unlawful arrest. The sentence for that is between two to three years in jail. We are advocating for justice.”

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.

Gayoom Brothers’ Rivalry Rips PPM Apart; Yameen Govt Set To Fall As Maumoon Withdraws Support?

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After over a six-month family feud, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom withdrew his support from his half-brother Abdulla Yameen-led government with immediate effect followed by Supreme Court verdict that upheld the High Court’s decision to make later the head of the party.

gayoom brothers powerplay (5)


The rift between the brothers that led to division of party into two factions escalated on Thursday during the fifth anniversary celebration of PPM when Maumoon was stopped by security forces from attending the event at the party’s office.

Three tweets followed by the incident within three hours apparently opened Pandora’s box of Maumoon’s resentment wherein he finally announced withdrawing his support from the ruling government.

The announcement was made following this tweet:

Later Thursday night, Head office of PPM under Maumoon’s faction was found chained allegedly by supporters of Yameen, however, police did not confirm who the culprit was, Sun Online reported.

Maumoon, meanwhile alleged that some of the properties of PPM was also stolen.

Earlier on Thursday, eight MPs from ruling party had joined Maumoon’s faction and said that they will work independently defying Yameen’s diktat in national interest.

It is yet to be ascertained if Yameen would be able to prove majority on the floor of People’s Majlis.

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.

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