By Henry D Gombya
Despite last month’s change of government in the Maldives, business is as usual and tourists’ facilities are open to all tourists. The sudden resignation of the country’s President has not affected the way the Maldives welcomes everybody to the country’s 1192 islands.
This was said by Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor, Maldives Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, during a press conference he held in London Monday. Mr Gafoor said despite misgivings from some sections of the political world about the way his country changed governments on February 7 this year, there was a telling difference in that while in some countries where changes of governments have taken place, and those that have been in power have been forced to flee the country, the Maldives was a democratic country that allowed former leaders to enjoy normal life without the threat of being either arrested or mistreated in anyway.
Maldives former President Mohamed Nasheed offered to resign his office last month but soon after changed his mind and claimed he had been forced to step down after allegedly being held at gunpoint by security personnel who forced him to resign or face a bloody exit. His place was immediately filled by then Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.
The Maldives Tourism Minister set the record straight by telling the press conference that Dr Waheed’s new government had already put in place a commission of enquiry that will look into allegations that Mr Nasheed had been forced from power. He cautioned that until the enquiry has completed its work, it would be wrong for anybody to start drawing conclusions. “There is a constitutional process in our country whereby when a president resigns, the constitutions delegated the vice president to take over,” Mr Gafoor said. He added that it was too soon to start speculating as to what was the exact cause that led to President Nasheed to relinquish power.
Mr Gafoor said that the European Union, the Commonwealth and the United Nations had all sent delegates to the Maldives and were satisfied that all was well in the country. “As we speak, former President Nasheed is a free man, able to come and go as he wishes and able to take part in political activities,” Mr Gafoor said.
The Minister who started the press conference by saying he had a lot of respect for journalists, said his country was grateful to European tourists for their continued interest in the Maldives. He specifically mentioned tourists from the United Kingdom whom he sad were among those who repeatedly revisit the islands. British tourists, he added, accounted for over 100,000 tourists last year alone.