North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Maldives, where is it, and who was elected

Not a great deal of earth-shaking news this week: Syria continues its deadly internal conflict with international proxies and extremist groups backing various factions; Iran and the West continue to negotiate over nuclear development in that country; the Philippines continues to struggle with the aftermath of the super typhoon which hit its islands so hard.

So, repeatedly in the news was an election drama in the small country of Maldives. It might be time to check in on this land.

First, where is it?

Maldives is a collection of islands off the SW coast of India. Map from

Click on image for full picture
The collection of islands in count is nearly 1200 such protrusions out of the Indian Ocean, with a double chain of 26 atolls as the major framework. The population is just under 329,000, which makes it similar in numbers to Iceland, though much less than the least populated state in the US - Wyoming with its 576,000 citizens. Map from

A Mr. Abdulla Yameen was sworn in as 6th President of Republic of Maldives, one day after he defeated former President Mohamed Nasheed in the presidential runoff election. However, there was apparently high drama over the past months, as the Times of India reports, "Abdulla Yameen was sworn in as the new president of the Maldives on Sunday after a shock run-off victory over favourite Mohamed Nasheed, ending nearly two years of political turmoil that plagued the nascent democracy and raised international concerns over the country's future. Yameen, the half-brother of former autocratic ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, was sworn in as the 6th president of the Maldives by Chief Justice Ahmad Faiz at a special session of the Parliament ..."

Click on image for full picture
President Yameen at swearing-in ceremony conducted by Chief Justice Faiz. From various reports, Yameen, 54, an economist and a candidate of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) won the runoff with over 92% of the population voting. Photo from

The article goes on, "Maldives has witnessed political turmoil since 46-year-old Nasheed resigned under duress in February 2012 in a controversial transfer of power. Nasheed conceded defeat in Saturday's run-off after a bitterly fought battle and said he was pleased that the country finally had a democratically elected leader."

Click on image for full picture
Ex-President Nasheed, who leads the Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) votes here in an apparent happy state (Teatree assumes, with his wife) in a losing effort during the runoff. Photo from the Washington Post

Again from the Times of India, "The Maldives had failed to elect a president in three attempts since September, raising concerns in the international community that the fledgling democracy may slip back to authoritarian rule. The international community led by the US and India had called for the democratic process to be resumed. The Commonwealth, European Union and the US had called for democratic process to be observed.

In the first round of elections held in September, Nasheed led over Yameen and Jumhooree Party candidate Gasim Ibrahim but failed to secure a more than 50 per cent of the votes. But before a run-off could be held, the results were annulled by the supreme court which cited irregularities in the voters' list. A second attempt to hold the polls on October 19 was thwarted by police after another Supreme Court ruling.

The re-vote finally took place on November 9 and Nasheed again comfortably led in the first round but could not cross the half-way mark, resulting in Saturday's run-off with Yameen. The Commonwealth on Thursday suspended the Maldives from the Commonwealth ministerial action group (CMAG), a first step towards expulsion from the 53-member organization for failing to uphold its shared democratic values. However, following the inauguration of Maldives' new president Yamin, the CMAG removed the country from its formal agenda."

President Yameen immediately stated that the major goal for the country was to secure political stability, then seek to restore an economy that had been shaken by the past year of unrest.

Click on image for full picture
Male, the capital of Maldives, holds about 1/3 of the total population, was once known as the King's Island, (and looks unreal to Teatree). Photo from

Click on image for full picture
Heavily oriented to tourism, this resort also looks amazing and unreal. Photo from

Issues everywhere.

While Maldives works on rebuilding its image, a recent hubbub implies many matters to deal with. "A newly wed Sikh couple from UK recently went to Maldives for vacation. Upon arrival they discovered Maldives had a policy against the Kirpan. The couple were very distressed as their Kirpans were seized from them by Airport Security. The security informed the couple that Maldives is an Islamic country and serious violations of local laws may lead to a prison sentence. Public observance of any other religion other than Islam is prohibited, including materials deemed contrary to Islam. The security officials referred to the Sikh Kirpan as part of what they considered to be “idols for worship."

This picture shows the geography of islands sprinkled within the national boundaries. Photo from

What is a Kirpan?

This is a kirpan, worn by baptized Sikhs. Photo from (Teatree thinks Maldive security might have a case ...)

Western bikinis are apparently not religious

Photo from

No comments: