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India to Maldives: Big bullies don’t provide $4.5bn to neighbors

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India’s top diplomat strongly rejected the accusation of the country being a bully in the South East Asian region, stating that true bullies do not provide USD 4.5 billion when neighboring countries face difficulties.

The Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar made the remark while addressing an event at the Ananta Aspen Center on Sunday.

The remark takes aim at Maldivian President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, who, while speaking to reporters in January, said that no country has the right to “bully” Maldives.

At Sunday’s event, Jaishankar said that India is perceived as a big bully, and that their problem in the neighborhood was with respect to one country.

“Big bullies don’t provide USD 4.5 billion when their neighbors are in trouble. Big bullies don’t supply vaccines to other countries when Covid is on,” he said. “Our problem in the neighborhood is honestly in respect to one country.”

He added that if India were a true bully, it would also not make exceptions to its own rules “to respond to food demands or fuel demands or fertilizer demands because some war in some other part of the world has complicated their lives.”

Explaining how India’s ties with its neighbors have changed over the last decade, Jaishankar said that ties with Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and even the Maldives, have improved in terms of trade, investment, and people-to-people exchanges.

“If you actually look today at the connectivity, just the volume of people moving up and down and the volume of the trade which is there, the investments which are there… It is actually a very good story to tell. Not just with Nepal and Bangladesh, but Sri Lanka as well. And I would even say with Maldives. And Bhutan,” he said.

“You have to look today at actually what has changed between India and its neighbors,” he said.

“So, our problem in the neighborhood, very honestly, is in respect to one country. And in diplomacy, yes, always hold out hopes that yes, okay, keep the tact and who knows, one day, what the future holds.”

The Maldivian leader had made the bully remark while speaking to reporters at the Velana International Airport on January 13, after concluding a state visit to China.

“We may be small, but that doesn’t give you the license to bully us,” he said, without explicitly stating which country the remark was directed.

While President Muizzu did not explicitly state that the remark was directed at India, it was widely taken as such, especially given his publicly stated plans to end Maldives’ dependency on its powerful neighbor, and the demand that it withdraw its troops from country.

Source(s): sun.mv

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New administration has done nothing but boost political appointments: Solih

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The new Maldivian administration has done nothing but appoint more and more political appointees to high-paying posts, says former Maldivian leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Solih, who is a nationwide tour of Maldives to rile up support for the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections, made the remark in a visit to L. Gan on Sunday.

Addressing a rally in Gan, Solih said that President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu’s administration is not running any projects.

“Where are the development projects started in the last five months? But they halted 1,700 projects we initiated,” he said.

“There’s money allocated in this year’s budget for these projects. But after stopping these [projects], the only thing they are doing is appointing more people to political posts and paying them salaries. They are doing nothing else,” he said.

Solih, who now serves as an advisor at MDP, suggested that “either the incumbent administration does not know how to manage the budget or it is deliberately trying to keep the people enslaved.”

He accused the administration of intimidating voters, especially those employed in state-run companies.

“MDP will always rise up against this,” he said.

MDP has repeatedly expressed concern over the high number of apolitical appointments made by the PPM-PNC administration.

Addressing Sunday’s rally, Solih said the people now realize that they made a “mistake” during the 2023 presidential elections. He alleged that President Muizzu based his campaign on “lies and deceit.”

“I see MDP winning the seats by a landslide again, In Sha Allah,” he said, referring to the party’s historic win in the 2019 parliamentary elections.

The allegations of intimidation of government employees and increased hirings for political gain has been repeatedly denied by the government.

The parliamentary elections is scheduled for April 21.

Total 368 candidates are contesting for 93 parliamentary seats in this year’s elections. The highest number of candidates are from the MDP – which is contesting 90 seats.

Source(s): sun.mv

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President plans legal reforms to have tax revenue injected into councils

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President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu says he plans on making legal reforms to have some of the tax revenue generated by the state injected into local councils to boost its income.

President Muizzu, who is on a tour of F. Atoll, made the announcement during a rally in Feeali on Sunday afternoon.

Addressing the rally, President Muizzu said that injecting tax revenue into local councils will facilitate the implementation of multiple initiatives that are beneficial to the people.

“The state generates income from taxes on tourism and other sectors. We will reform the Taxation Act and other relevant laws to inject a certain percentage of the tax revenue directly into councils. There’s a lot that councils can do for the development of islands through this,” he said.

Highlighting on the decision to involve local councils and small businesses in the lease of uninhabited islands, President Muizzu said he wants to enrich the people and make them more self-reliant.

He has named empowering and securing financial independence to councils as one of his administration’s key priorities. He said that he wants to inject revenue from tourism and other key economic sectors into local councils – reducing councils’ dependance on the central government for local developmental initiatives.

President Muizzu said he wants to produce results at a fast pace.

“As I said before, I want to produce results at a fast pace. I want to realize the people’s aspirations without wasting a single day,” he said.

Sunday’s rally had followed a meeting with members of the Feeali Council – bringing the total number of council representatives the president has met during his current tour to 168. He now has 32 councils left to meet.

Source(s): sun.mv

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MDP taking Yameen’s release to JSC is a joke: PNC

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Ruling People’s National Congress (PNC) has claimed the main opposition MDP’s complaint to Judicial Services Commission (JSC) over the delays in former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s appeal hearing is a joke.

It has been nearly four months since the appeal hearing on the crimnal sentence of the former president ended, however, the verdict is still pending.

The former president was found guilty by the Criminal Court on December 25, 2022 for the charges of money laundering and graft in the lease of Vaavu atoll Aarah.

Parliament Speaker Mohamed Aslam recently announced the opposition party was moving forward to submit the complaint over the delay in Yameen’s appeal to JSC.

In a press conference on Sunday, PNC’s senior spokesperson Heena Waleed criticized MDP and Aslam for their decision calling it was a “big joke”.

“Their claim of taking the issue to JSC for the release of Yameen is nothing but a big joke for us,” Heena jabbed.

She further highlighted the three judges in the High Court bench presiding over Yameen’s appeal were all appointed during the previous MDP-led government. Heena also said that while Aslam has claimed he would take the matter to JSC, its majority consists of MDP members including the Speaker.

“JSC is comprised of MDP members, the Parliament speaker is taking the case to a commission which has their party’s majority. So, it truly is a big joke,” Heena added.

She affirmed the current government was not vindictive, but alleged MDP took Super Majority of the 19th parliament assembly after imprisoning Yameen.

“Take a look now, all the opposition members, its leaders and the party are campaigning free and openly. Our party has intervened it,” Heena, who is also the current CEO of NSPA said.

Meanwhile, Yameen has made multiple allegations the current government did not intend to release the former PPM leader.

While he was sentenced for 11 years in jail during the former government, he was transferred to house arrest around the culmination point of Solih’s administration.

Besides this, Yameen was provided with leniencies to step out of his residence for exercise and medical checkups. However, his political activities were restricted by relevant authorities.

Despite the restriction, Yameen had actively participated in multiple PNF rallies; the new party he is attempting to start.

Though Maldives Correctional Service warned Yameen against partaking in political activities, the authority has not taken any action against him so far.

Source(s): sun.mv

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