Since I became President, one of my key priorities for securing the future of the Maldives is combating the very real challenge of climate change and its effect on our nation. Climate change threatens our sustainable developmental aspirations, our principal economic sectors – tourism and fisheries, our fragile ecosystems and the very existence of our country itself.
While Maldives contributes to less than 0.01% to the global emission of greenhouse gases, we are at the frontline of the predicted impacts of climate change and sea level rise. Our tourist resorts, which on average are positioned approximately 1.5m above mean sea level, are already experiencing environmental damage, due to climate change-related trends and effects. In addition, initial impacts are already being felt on coastal infrastructure, fisheries, water resources, agriculture and human health.
The Maldivian economy has been impacted by natural disaster before, as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami brought on an estimated direct loss of about US$298 million and total damages amounting to over US$470 million . The largest indirect losses occurred in the tourism sector due to the sharp decline in tourist arrivals following the incident.
Mohammed Waheed Hassan, president of the Maldives, concluded a five-day state visit to India last week, his first since taking over in February after Mohamed Nasheed, the country’s first democratically elected leader, stepped down. Mr. Nasheed said he was forced to leave in a coup that was orchestrated by loyalists to Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the former dictator.
During his visit to India, Mr. Hassan rejected calls from Mr. Nasheed and others for early elections, saying that under the constitution, the next elections in Maldives could not be held earlier than July 2013.
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President Dr Mohamed Waheed has today met with the United States Congressional Staff delegation.
During the meeting held at the President’s Office this morning, the President highlighted the close and long existing relations between the two countries. He also expressed his gratitude to the continuous support offered to the Maldives by the US in the international forums.
The President further briefed the visiting delegation on the recent events that took place in the Maldives, and gave them an update on the progress made in resolving the political challenges. President Waheed also assured that the government was fully committed to upholding the Constitution and the rule of law.
During this dangerous situation facing the nation it is my duty to say a few words. I support the peaceful efforts of a large number of Maldivians trying to protect the Maldives constitution and religion. At this time I call upon all the institutions especially law enforcement agencies (the military) to uphold the constitution and the laws of the country. Refrain from obeying unconstitutional and illegal instructions. During this difficult time no chance should be given to anyone trying to hurt the people of our country or damage their property, especially no room should be afforded to those who would damage news agencies and media. I am saddened that VTV and other places in Male’ have been attacked. I call on those who are involved in this to immediately cease all such activities. As your Vice President I am prepared to do anything possible to overcome this situation.