Dec 26, 2008

World - Nasheed seeks diverse help from India

Sandeep Dikshit

NEW DELHI: The Maldives has sought greater assistance from India to build its institutions and infrastructure. During the maiden visit of Mohamed Nasheed as Maldives President, India extended a $100-million standby credit facility, increased the State Bank of India’s lending ceiling to a higher level and assured that the Exim Bank would make more facilities available for Indian traders.

Long way ahead

Speaking to journalists on the last day of his visit here, Mr. Nasheed said the country had a long way ahead and appreciated India for being “very receptive” to the Maldives’ requirements.

‘Lot of work to do’

“There is a lot of work to do first. The first multiparty Parliament will be elected soon. We have had separation of powers of the judiciary, legislature and the executive. We have to strengthen the judiciary and till then we invite judges and lawyers from the Commonwealth countries to work in the Maldives. When the English education system was introduced in the 1950s, we had invited teachers. We are now in a similar situation because we have introduced the rule of law,” he said.

The Maldives also required to train its officials as many were appointed arbitrarily by the previous President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Seeks NGOs’ help

Realising the need to liberalise society, the President wanted the assistance of Indian non-governmental organisations “especially because people could be attracted to religious extremism.”

Decentralisation was another key area of policy to consolidate democracy, he said.

The Maldives, having decided to relinquish its stake in companies, was looking for joint ventures in infrastructure, sewage treatment, electricity, transport, gas and airports.

Although Mr. Gayoom did not leave behind many records that could contribute to the country’s institutional memory, Mr. Nasheed assured that his government would not carry out a witch-hunt against the previous President.

Rules out witch-hunt

“We won’t carry out a witch-hunt. We don’t know where it will end. When the regime changes in Maldives, which is rarely, it is not a peaceful transition. The next regime has to start all over again because everything is smashed. But we don’t want vendetta as we don’t want to be diverted from our priorities.”

Climate change

On climate change, the President denied that he had sought to buy land as his country could get submerged if there was no check on the rate of growth of carbon emissions. “I never said we would buy land. All I said was we don’t want to be environmental wreckages,” he clarified.

Although the Maldives could be at the “receiving end” of the financial crises, the President was confident of the country’s economy bouncing back just as it did after the Gulf War and the tsunami.

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