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News in Brief

Nasheed’s awards brings honour and prestige to Maldives, says MDP

Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s awards and international recognition for climate change advocacy brings honour and prestige to the Maldives, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has said.

The opposition leader returned yesterday after a visit to the United States to receive the ‘Sylvia Earle Blue Mission’ award for 2014 at a ceremony in St Petersburg, Florida, on November 6.

Nasheed – also the party’s president – was greeted by throngs of supporters at the jetty in Malé.

The MDP noted in a press statement today that St Petersburg’s Mayor Rick Kriseman also presented Nasheed a key to the city at a ceremony in his honour.

Nasheed also addressed students of the Earth Science Faculty of the University of South Florida and gave interviews to several American newspapers and websites such as the Huffington Post during the visit.

The MDP said Nasheed has become a global icon for his advocacy on climate change and global warming, which has brought attention and international repute to the Maldives.

After serving on the jury panel of judges of the Zayed Future Energy at Abu Dhabi in October, Nasheed delivered the keynote address at the International Bar Association ‘annual conference showcase session on climate change and human rights’ in Tokyo last month.

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MCC opens a new parking lot in Majeedhee Magu

Malé City Council (MCC) has opened a new parking lot on a vacant plot of land at H.Heenaamaage in Majeedhee Magu – the capital’s main road.

While speaking at the opening ceremony of the facility – believed to accommodate up to 300 motorbikes – MCC Mayor Mohamed Shihab said that since Majeedhee Magu is the busiest street in Malé, specialized parking spots would reduce traffic.

“As of now, parking in the lot is free. However, we may take a small fee after discussing it with the people living nearby and shop owners in the area,” said Shihab.

Also speaking at the ceremony, MCC member Shamau Shareef said that the plot has been contracted to an Indian firm which wsa to develop a multi-story facility two years ago, but the work had not begun as the company was not able to register in the Maldives.

“The contract is still valid and if the government allows the company to register in the Maldives, We would be able to build the three story parking lot here,” explained Shamau.

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Economic ministry takes over approving night market from city council

The Ministry of Economic Development has taken over authorising the annual night market from the opposition-dominated Malé City Council.

The ministry announced today that permission or approval for holding carnivals, fun fairs, promotional fairs, and night markets should henceforth be sought from the ministry.

Application forms would be available from the ministry’s website.

The move follows the cabinet’s decision to take over maintenance of the capital’s roads from the city council.

Earlier this week, the housing ministry signed an agreement with the Maldives Road Development Corporation (MRDC) for maintenance of drains of the capital’s roads and resolve persistence flooding during heavy rain.

The project involves cleaning the pavement drains as well as cleaning and repairing water pipes.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party-majority city council has been at loggerheads with the executive since the controversial transfer of presidential power in February 2012.

Earlier this year, the Anti-Corruption Commission alleged corruption in the awarding of a contract by the city council to Go Media for the organisation of the annual night market.

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V News editor arrested for assault

V News Editor ‘Mundu’ Adam Haleem has been arrested on Tuesday night on charges of assaulting a female colleague.

The outlet has placed Haleem on suspension in connection to the incident, local media reports, after CCTV footage showing a man fitting Haleem’s description shoving a female colleague onto a staircase was circulated on social media.

The footage showed another male figure intervening to stop Haleem from further assaulting his colleague before pulling him into a nearby room.

Police stated that Haleem was arrested under a court order at around 11.30pm on Tuesday night (November 11), declining to comment further on the ongoing investigation.

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Four applicants for auditor general’s job

President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz has told local media that applications from four individuals have been received for post of auditor general.

While the application deadline ended on Monday, Muaz stated that the applications are currently being processed. He declined from providing any information regarding the applicants other than saying that none were females.

On October 29, the parliament approved an amendment proposed by ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Thoriq to the Audit Act enabling the president to reappoint the auditor general, four years before the end of the incumbent Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim’s seven year term.

The recent amendment stipulates that the president must submit a nomination for the post to the parliament 30 days from the ratification of the act.

The amendment was passed despite the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members’ argument that it should not have been put to a vote as it allows the discharging of the incumbent without following the constitutional provisions for impeachment.

The amendment came into effect on the same day that the Auditor General signed a damning report into an alleged US$6 milllion corruption scandal involving PPM Deputy Leader and Minister of Tourism Ahmed Adeeb – a report Adeeb claimed was politically motivated.

Earlier in November, Niyaz Ibrahim told local media that he will not be reapplying for the post, and that instead he intends to challenge the constitutionality of the amendment in court.

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Maldives elected chair of Alliance of Small Island States

The Maldives has been elected as the next Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) during a ministerial meeting in the Seychelles.

“The Maldives spearheaded the efforts to form AOSIS, following the first ever Small States Conference held in the Maldives in November 1989,” explained a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Formed of 39 low-lying coastal and small island countries, the alliance focuses primarily on issues of vulenerability – particularly in reference to the effects of climate change. It functions as a lobby group within the UN system, of which its members make up 20 percent.

Speaking at the 3rd International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Samoa in September, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – present at the first 1989 AOSIS meeting – called on Alliance of Small Island States to make climate change its “core issue of concern”.

2014 has been made the ‘Year of the Small Island Developing States’ by the UN as an opportunity for the international community to raise awareness of the challenges facings SIDs.

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President presents national awards of honour and recognition

President Abdulla Yameen presented national awards of honour and recognition today at a function held at the Dharubaaruge convention centre to mark this year’s Republic Day (November 11).

“Recipients of the national award of honour received a shield of honour, a badge of honour and a commemorative plaque, while the recipients of the national award of recognition received a commemorative plaque and a certificate,” the President’s Office noted in a statement about the annual tradition.

The recipients of the national award of honour were Mohamed Zakariyya for his contribution to the development of Dhivehi literature and ‘Hiyalee’ Mohamed Rasheed for his contributions in the field of sports.

The 14 recipients of the national award of recognition were:

  • Sergeant First Class Al-Ghari Mohamed Aslam in the area of recitation and teaching of Quran
  • Al-Ghari Al-Hafiz Abdul Rasheed Mohamed in the area of recitation and teaching of Quran
  • Anwar Ibrahim in the area of Dhivehi linguistics (oratory skills)
  • Mohamed Areef in the area of Dhivehi customs and culture (cultural games)
  • Adam Rasheed in the area of fisheries (promotion of pole and line fishing)
  • Ishaq Solih in the area of tourism (culinary arts)
  • Hussain Rasheed in the area of agriculture (development of commercial agriculture and agricultural research)
  • Ahmed Hishan ‎in the area of social services (humanitarian service)
  • Mohamed Fayaz Ali Riza in the area of sports (fitness therapy)
  • Nahidha Ali in the area of sports (fitness)
  • Afzal Shafiu in the area of visual arts (calligraphy, illustration and design)
  • Captain Ahmed Athif in the area of performing arts (singing, music, and composition).

National awards of recognition were also presented to outstanding individuals among youth and women.

They were Hassan Ziyau (in the area of information and news dissemination) and Moomina Adam (in the area of sports).

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Adeeb’s number plate fell off, claims police

The number plates of Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb’s motorcycle fell off during a cycle rally held on November 8 to celebrate the upcoming one-year anniversary of President Abdulla Yameen’s administration, police have said.

In a press statement issued today in response to media reports of Adeeb driving his motorbike without a front number or license plate, police claimed that a member of the public had discovered the number plate and handed it over to patrolling police officers.

Police learned later that the number plate fell off shortly after the rally began, the statement explained.

However, prior to issuing the statement, the police media official had refused to comment on the case when contacted by local media this week.

The penalty for the traffic rules violation is a fine of MVR500 for a first time offence.

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Police tell Malé City Council removal of replanted trees was lawful

Police have informed Malé City Council that no action will be taken against the Maldives Road Development Corporation (MRDC) in relation to the removal of trees planted by the council last week.

A letter given to the council explained that the state-owned company had acted on the orders of the housing ministry, which was the highest authority in the country for environmental matters.

Around 25 areca palm trees – donated by the Indian government in 2011 – were cut down late last month by men alleged to have been off-duty Special Operations police officers, although police have denied this.

Opposition politicians have told local media the trees had been used by the Maldivian Democratic Party – which holds a majority of seats on the council – to curse President Abdulla Yameen.

Subsequent efforts to replace the trees were stopped by the MRDC last week, before the cabinet announced it was to remove control of the city’s streets from the council’s jurisdiction.

Council members have suggested that the government is infringing on services designated to the council under the 2010 Decentralisation Act.

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Torture victims in the Maldives tell their stories