MonitorsPublished on Jul 11, 2014
Through a deft post facto damage-control, the Government of President Abdulla Yameen seems to have diffused and warded off - at least for the time being - what threatened to be a major diplomatic incident for Maldives, and involving the US and Russia,
Maldives: Caught in Russo-American tiff, post-Cold War
< class="heading1">Analysis

Through a deft post facto damage-control, the Government of President Abdulla Yameen seems to have diffused and warded off - at least for the time being - what threatened to be a major diplomatic incident for Maldives, and involving the US and Russia, the two ’Cold War’ era competitors who havce lately been flexing their political muscles in distant Europe.

The issue relates to the arrest of a Russian national on Maldivian soil, and his immediate handing over to waiting US marshals, who flew him away, seemingly without giving Male enough time for second thoughts - and naturally so. How things shape may now depend more on how events play out on the domestic front in Russia and/or on the international arena relating to the Russo-American stand-off/trade-off in the ’Ukraine-Crimean crisis’ which refuses to die down, than on anything Maldivian.

Maldives was literally and possibly unknowingly caught in the Russo-American politico-diplomatic cross-fire after the local police reportedly arrested Roman Valerevich Seleznyov, the 30-year-old son of a Russian parliamentarian, whom the US has claimed was a ’hacker and bank fraud’ wanted by American courts since 2011. Seleznyov was apprehended at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) in Male and handed over to the US Secret Service - though a slightly different version has claimed greater credence.

Russia sought an immediate explanation from Maldives. Valery Seleznyov, the parliamentarian-father of Roman, even wanted Moscow to impose economic sanctions on Male, for allowing three waiting US marshals to fly away with his son. He also claimed that the US flew his son to the western Pacific territory of Guam, where not all protection under US civil laws were available/applicable, for his son to seek relief.

MP Valery charged the US with ’kidnapping’ his son for a (possible) trade-off against the return of Edward Snowden, a sub-contractor of the US’ National Security Agency (NSA), who has taken refuge in Russia after leaking top-secret American phone-and-email tapping records the world over. Thankfully for the US - and possibly for Maldives, too - the Russian Government is not known to have shared the parliamentarian’s claims linking the US action now to a Snowden ’trade-off’.

’Abduction’ and ’outrage’

Either owing to domestic pressure, or the opportunity to hit the US once more in the prevailing circumstances of ever-dipping bilateral equations, the Russian Foreign Ministry lost no time in coming down heavily on the ’Cold War’ era adversary. "It is not the first time that the US resorts to de facto abduction of a Russian national, ignoring the bilateral 1999 treaty on mutual legal assistance" ministry said. With much of the rest of the world media reporting near-nothing on the episode - it’s true in India, too - the Maldivian media reported that Russia had compared the Seleznyov incident to two other extradition cases. One was of Viktor Bout, whom the US claimed was an arms-dealer. The other related to an alleged drug-smuggler Konstantin Yaroshenko. They too were "forcibly taken to the US from third countries and convicted on dubious charges", the Russian Foreign Ministry claimed in its early reactions to the Seleznyov incident.

Moscow simultaneously claimed that Maldives had not kept them informed of the imminent arrest, and called upon Male to provide the necessary explanations. "The stance of Maldives’ authorities cannot be but outraging, since despite the existing international legislation norms they allowed another country’s special service to kidnap a Russian citizen and take him out of the country," the ministry said further. Independent of ’sovereignty’ issues that may be weighted in Male’s favour, in practical terms, these were strong Russian words against a small country like Maldives.

Seleznyov’s father advised fellow-Russians not to travel to Maldives, whose economy is heavily dependent on international tourism. Whether he had this alone in mind when he demanded ’economic sanctions’ against Maldives, or something more specific pertaining to possible abrogation/cut in government-to-government arrangements is unclear.

As the Maldivian media recalled, in September 2013, Russia had issued a travel advisory, asking its citizens to avoid countries where US law- enforcement can arrest and extradite its citizens. Would Maldives’ name be found on the Russian list, if any, too is unclear. It is another matter that according to available statistic, the Russian market for inward tourism in Maldives "deteriorated further posting a negative growth of 7.5 percent for the period from January to May 2014. Market share of Russia stood at 6.4 percent at the end of the period".

’Cyber crook’, says US

According to the US, Seleznyov was arrested by the US Secret Service and was transported to Guam Island where he was presented to a court. He is under detention until a second hearing on July 22, the US has clarified since. In a related development, US Attorney for the Western District of Washington, Jenny A. Durkan, in a statement thanked the US Secret Service for apprehending Seleznyov. "Cyber crooks should take heed: you cannot hide behind distant keyboards. We will bring you to face justice," said Durkin, who also heads the US Justice Department’s Cyber-crime and Intellectual Property Enforcement Sub-committee of the Attorney-General’s Advisory Committee.

According to the American statement, Seleznyov was indicted as far back as March 2011 in the Western District of Washington for hacking into point-of-sale systems at retailers throughout the country between October 2009 and February 2011. He is said to have been involved in the criminal underground for carding (verifying validity of stolen credit card data), where he is known as "Track-2??.

In this, Seleznyev is accused of engaging in a bank fraud scheme, hacking into retail POS systems and installing malicious software on them to steal credit card numbers. He is also accused of creating and operated infrastructure - among the servers that hosting carding forum websites selling stolen credit card numbers.

"The arrest of Roman Seleznyov is yet another example of how the Secret Service continues to successfully combat data-theft and financial crimes," according to Robert Kierstead, Special Agent in Charge of the US Secret Service Seattle Field Office. "The Secret Service utilised state-of-the-art investigative techniques to dismantle this criminal network. Our success in this case and other similar investigations is a result of the extraordinary work of our investigators, and our close work with our network of law-enforcement partners," the Maldivian media quoted US official statements as saying.

The US statements clarified that Maldives acted under its own law in the matter. Yet, the local media also referred to the fact that the current passenger-identification system installed at the Male airport was a gift from the US. If they had questions if the same had been linked to American computer-aided person/passport identification systems installed elsewhere in the country other than that of the Interpol’s, to facilitate tracking and detaining persons ’wanted’ by the US, the media has been silent over flagging such issues - at least thus far.

Procedural lapses, if?

In between, the Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) lost no time in bringing out the nation’s purported embarrassment through media statements, and laying the blame at the doorsteps of the Yameen Government. The MDP statement claimed that Seleznyov was not accorded ’consular services’ from the Russian Embassy in Colombo before his detention, nor was a court order obtained under the law in Maldives for his arrest.

It is another matter that the MDP, which is now being seen as more sympathetic to the ’Russian cause’, as if by a matter of principle, was more inclined towards supporting the American line in international fora when party leader Mohammed Nasheed was the nation’s first democratically-elected President, but short-lived in the post (2008-12). At the time, Maldives was seen as backing the US line UN fora, boldly inviting Israeli farm scientists and medical doctors to work in the country despite the nation’s traditional reservations flowing from the ’Palestine issue’. The one issue that keeps coming to mind from that period was the reported Maldivian decision to accept a Guantanamo Bay detainee at American instance - though domestic protests put paid to the proposal before long.

No detention order from court?

According to social media claims, the criminal court in Maldives had declined to issue the detention order, indicating that the airport detention was the last-ditch but successful effort at ensuring that Seleznyov did not jump the American coup. These reports also indicated that Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, Abdulla Mohamed, whom the MDP Government had detained in January 2012, but restored later, was at the centre of the current controversy attending on the possible denial of detention order against Seleznyov.

The reports also indicated that the Russian Embassy in Colombo might have been brought into the picture post facto, and not before Seleznyov’s detention and transportation to Guam. Whether the official Maldivian intimation to Russia came before Seleznyov’s father’s public statement or not remains unclear, however. However, reports indicated that it might have been otherwise, thus upsetting Russia, and the Russian Embassy in Colombo.

Social media circles have since pointed out how a section of the Maldivian media had removed previous references to possible legal advice purportedly provided to the Government in the matter, sometime during the course of the detention discourse within. It is unclear if the removal of an earlier media reference to the advice that the Government could stamp Seleznyov’s passport as ’Departed’ and then have him arrested inside the airport was removed at anybody’s instance and insistence. It is however not uncommon for the media to remove such references in subsequent despatches, if later inquiry or clarification had put things in perspective.

There has been relative silence from the Russian side after the US statements that Seleznyov was a ’cyber crook’ and ’bank-fraud’. If nothing much comes off on that front, it may remain that the Maldivian lapses, if any, might have been procedural at best. Sooner than the Russian reactions came out, President Yameen, and the Maldivian Home Ministry, in quick succession, lost no time with their clarification. Accordingly, Maldives had acted on an Interpol ’Red Alert’, as always.

"As Interpol is the biggest international police institution and the Maldives has been a member of the Interpol since 1984, the government of Maldives considers Interpol ’Red Notices’ to be of high priority and takes serious action (regarding such notices)," the Maldivian Home Ministry said in a statement. The ministry also said the Maldives respects international treaties it is party to and strives to sustain relations with friendly nations.

However, questions have been raised, particularly pertaining to the ’due process’ - followed or not by the Maldivian authorities. Maldives does not have an extradition treaty with the US, and ’social media’ critics in the Indian Ocean archipelago have asked how their Government could hand over the detained person to the waiting American marshals, without handing him over through the Interpol, under the circumstances. Questions have also been raised about the kind of coordination required to apprehend the Russian and hand him over to the US personnel, who might have already been there on Maldivian soil.

The social media has gone viral with purported details that no Government has denied, or clarified, since. According to eye-witness accounts quoted in these reports, US marshals were the ones who actually effected the arrest at the airport after shouting their presence - as seen often in Hollywood films -- even as Maldivian Tourist Police personnel looked on. If however there was any visual evidence to the same - as it often happens by the use of a mobile-phone camera or the like -- it has not made its appearance on the social media networks.

The first and foremost question remains -- why the Maldivian authorities did not go public about the 5 July arrest until after the Russians had made an issue of the same. Though initial confusion remained if Seleznyov was apprehended when he was landing or departing at Male, the social media has since come up with reports that have not since been denied.

Accordingly, a woman (variously described as his wife or girl friend) and child had accompanied Seleznyov, and they had been staying in Maldives for five days before departure. Having been allowed to proceed to Russia with Seleznyov’s detention, they had taken up the matter with his family and the Government. Father Seleznyov, reportedly heading a regional political party in Vladivostok that is partnering with President Vladimir Putin’s Government, his anguished voice could not have but found resonance in official reactions, initially. Or, so goes an argument.

’An isolated incident’

With strong and unexpected reaction from Russia possibly taking the Maldivian Government by surprise, President Yameen lost no time in sending out a delegation of senior officials to Colombo, the seat of the Russian Embassy and Ambassador, co-accredited to Sri Lanka and Maldives, to explain the situation. This has since been followed in double-quick time by Maldives’ A-team, comprising Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon and Attorney-General, Mohammed Anil, meeting with Russian officials, again in Colombo, to take forward the discussions.

Critics of the Yameen Government nearer home would want to believe that the first-round official-level talks with Russia did not go on Maldives’ expected lines, hence the need for despatching a senior minister and the AG, personally. However, after her round of talks, Foreign Minister Dunya said later that the "strong, mutually beneficial" relations between the two countries would not "derail" due to an "isolated incident" like Seleznyov’s arrest.

According to a Maldivian Foreign Ministry statement, the two ministers explained to the Russian officials that the Maldives had followed "past practices" in dealing with Interpol ’Red Notices’. The two sides also discussed on entering into agreements in order to avoid such incidents in the future, the ministry added. With President Yameen now on expanding the nation’s external relations with a visit to Japan earlier this year, and one to China next month, the two countries may also consider a presidential visit to Russia on a subsequent occasion. Or, would they, just at the moment when things would still be hot in Moscow?

India’s ’sphere of influence’

Weeks ahead will determine how the ’Seleznyov episode’ plays out in the Russo-Maldivian relations. Considering in particular that the US, withdrawing from Afghanistan yet wanting its political and naval presence relatively intact in the Indian Ocean region has been wooing nations like Maldives and threatening those like Sri Lanka in the neighbourhood, the current Russian diplomatic stand-off with Male, may have consequences for India too in its ’traditional sphere of geo-strategic and politico-economic influence’.

With the new Government in general and Prime Minister Narendra Modi lending greater focus to the immediate South Asian neighbourhood, it remains to be seen how India views the recent developments in Maldives. It is another matter that in the overall context, India has no role to play per se, either before, during or after the event, as it pertains entirely to Maldives’ ’sovereign’ decision-making capacity and inherent capabilities as a nation-State that cherishes its independence even more. Yet, India may not be able to look the other way if the current Russo-Maldives impasse were to blow out of proportion. Or, if the US marshals’ presence and actions in Maldives, without due information to a neighbour like India - or, Sri Lanka - came to be viewed as something more, and well into the future.

The question would then arise when and how far did Maldives take India into confidence on the ’Seleznyov affair’, if at all. The sub-text would relate to the need - or, absence of it -- for Maldives doing so, particularly in the context of the new and ’independent’ Foreign Policy that President Yameen unveiled after assuming office - but which would have been on the works earlier, too. In context, the question would arise if the Maldivian Government would have benefited from any Indian advice or intervention in the matter, had it been sought.

For now, however, as and when the entire issue blows over, there could be an internal inquiry into the entire affair within the Maldivian Government on the facts and circumstances leading to Seleznyov’s detention, and the diplomatic precautions that the nation would have to take in similar circumstances in the future. All of it with the full realisation that no two episodes of the kind are one and the same - in terms of facts and circumstances, politics and diplomacy.

(The writer is a Senior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, Chennai Chapter)

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Myanmar: Deepening communal conflict

Mihir Bhonsale

The communal violence in Mandalay, which begun early this month, is a setback for the Thein Sein government, which has been criticised for failing to curb earlier episodes in Rakhine State.

Communal riots have now reached Mandalay, the second biggest city of Myanmar, raising questions on the reforms undertaken by the government and exposing its failure to protect the minorities.

Certainly, Myanmar is on the throes of transition to democracy, coming out of the shadows of military rule. But, it is just not the military rule that lasted for half a century that Myanmar has to reconcile. It also has the colonial past to reckon with, in order to make the reforms that are underway irreversible.

Historical underpinnings

The communal outbreaks in the country are characteristic of the ideological underpinnings of ’Bamar nationalism’, which were deeply rooted in the nation’s struggle for independence. The Bamars, or Burmese Buddhists, were a majority in British-controlled Lower Burma.

During the British rule in Burma, now Myanmar, many from the Indian sub-continent came to Burma. However, since the rise of Burmese nationalism, a rift was created between the Bamars and migrants from the sub-continent, leading to communal riots. The first such major riot could be traced back to the 1930’s at the height of the nationalist movement.

The present-day dominant ideology in Myanmar of ’Bamar nationalism’ is rooted in the deep-hatred for Kalars, the term used by Bamars to refer to people from the sub-continent. The ’Mandalay riots’ have just spurred this tension. Coupled with religious extremist groups adding fuel to the fire, the simmering tensions have been rendered palpable.

Military rule

The military rule in Burma since 1962 just reinforced the deep-hatred for Kalars, when most people from India and other sub-continental nations were repatriated to the country of their origin. Those minorities who remained in Myanmar were difficult to be singled out because they had adopted the majority Bamar traditions.

Inter-communal marriages have led to an acculturation in Myanmar’s society. Minorities living in most parts of the country are integrated into the society except for their religious faith. A 1982 law naturalised citizens from most minority communities, hereditarily.

Laws like banning inter-religious marriages and disenfranchising the non-citizens from voting or standing for public office, passed by the present government have certainly not helped communal harmony. Instead, it has spurred the majority Bamar to target the minorities.

As violence escalates in Northern Rakhine, the exodus of the Rohingyas continue, leaving sections of the minority communities fuming. This dissatisfaction among the Rohingyas could lead to serious consequences and even threats to security, as many commentators have observed.

Road ahead

At a time when the nation is slowly opening to the world in the age of globalisation as some commentators have observed, identities, especially between the minorities and the majority, have been invoked.

Extremist religious groups mostly hailing from majority groups have led the rampage against the minorities in several parts of the country. Such groups have exploited stray incidents of arson and rape of their community members, as was the case with the case of Mandalay riots.

The Thein Sein government cannot wash its hands by calling the communal riots a law and order problem. The Thein Sein-led USDP party, which is the largest constituent in Parliament, has to win over the confidence of the minorities and send across the message that no violence against the minorities would be tolerated.

Also, the government, which is said to have started its transition to democracy, should enact laws for development and protection of the minorities. This will also aid the peace process underway in Myanmar. The opposition leaders need to monitor this.

The Thein Sein government needs to encourage minorities to participate in public life. Unless and until they have a voice, no community can be won over. However, this would need willingness on part of the political community in the country.

Myanmar could have to face a circumstance in which this deepening of dissatisfaction among the minorities when the world over extremist groups are propagating hatred and violence. In context, the communal conflict in in the country, if left unchecked, could undermine the country’s transition to democracy.

(The writer is a Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Kolkata).

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Refugees banned from leaving Thai camps

Thailand’s authorities have banned Myanmarese refugees living on the border from leaving their camps, while they conduct a census to determine the exact number of refugees living in the country. There are nine refugee camps along the border and aid agencies say they provide relief to no less than 120,000 people.

Saw Honest, leader of Mae La, the biggest refugee camp in Thailand, said authorities have strictly warned its residents not to leave the camp and said they would punish those who do. Anyone found in violation of the travel ban may face a series of punishments ranging from a week of labour or ration cuts to having their refugee status revoked, he said.

Residents staying outside their camps, including students and those working in nearby towns, have been ordered to return for the population count. On 8 July, a team of military officials and police officers began the census in the Umpiem refugee camp, which lies 90 km south of Mae Sot.

"Officials have begun work to verify the number of people living in the Umpiem camp," said camp chairman Saw Wahtee. "They came there at around 7am on Tuesday and gathered residents in one area together. Then they issued some papers to each person and told them to walk through a gate to another zone."

Saw Wahtee told DVB the official count found 12,401 people living in Umpiem camp. "The Thai authorities said they just wanted to know the exact number of refugees in the country," he said.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, 9 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">President warns Press against ’endangering’ national security

Media workers lambasted Myanmarese President Thein Sein’s recent radio address about the Mandalay riots, during which he said that members of the press will face legal punishments if they "endanger" national security with their reports.

According to Thein Sein’s speech on 7 July, he singled out recent media reform in the country as an achievement that makes the country "one of the freest in South-East Asia". Yet this supposed freedom comes with certain conditions, he said.

"Amid the political reforms undertaken by the government, there is now freedom of expression in Myanmar, and the media in this country has become one of the freest in Southeast Asia," Thein Sein said.

"However, I would like to warn that those who use press freedom to endanger the national security instead of reporting constructively for the country will face effective action under existing laws," he continued.

This part of Thein Sein’s speech was omitted from the English translation of the president’s speech that appeared in the state-run newspaper, The New Light of Myanmar.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, 9 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Jailed for curfew violations in Mandalay

More than 100 people were jailed for violating the dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed in Mandalay last week following the latest outbreak of violence to hit Myanmar, according to Mandalay district police.

The rioting began on the evening of 1 July, leaving residents of the country’s second-largest city in a panic. One Buddhist and one Muslin man were beaten to death on 2 and 3 July. Six townships were placed under curfew on 3 July, with 145 people detained for violating it on the first night.

A seventh township, Patheingyi, was added on the weekend after a mob set fire to a Muslim cemetery, following the funeral of one of the slain men.

Police said yesterday that almost 300 people had been apprehended for violating the curfew. Township courts had sentenced 110 of them to jail for seven to 15 days each. More than 30 received seven-day sentences and the rest 15 days, police said. Others have been released on bail.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Eleven Myanmar, 7 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">China remains top source of FDI

China continues to be the largest investor in Myanmar with more than $14 billion of cumulative investment as of the end of June, according to latest data from the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA).

Foreign companies have so far invested more than $46.71 billion in 12 sectors, including oil and gas, manufacturing, mining, hotels and tourism, transport and logistics, real estate, livestock and fisheries, agriculture, construction and services.

The energy sector has received the most foreign investment, about 41 percent of the total, while the construction sector has received the least, according to DICA. Thailand is the second largest source of foreign investment, the agency said.

As of June, 720 foreign businesses had received permission to invest in Myanmar, with 118 of them from Singapore. These investments include 100 per cent foreign owned businesses as well as joint ventures with domestic companies. The foreign companies hail from ASEAN, East Asia, South Asia, Europe, the Americas and Oceania.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Eleven Myanmar, 10 June 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">UML to elect new leadership

Leaders from the two rival panels of the CPN-UML filed nominations for the party?Ls top posts including office bearers and central committee (CC) members on 10 July.

Following the nominations, the party?Ls election committee has announced that voting will start on July 11 and conclude by the evening.

The two panels declared their candidates for all the positions as per the provisions of the party statute amended by the general convention on 9 July.

The latest amendment requires that the list of candidates should be inclusive, i.e., candidates should be from all ethnic, marginalized, and various other groups including women.

Election committee member Madhav Paudel informed that over 400 candidates have filed their candidacies for altogether 200 posts. The two contestants for the post of party chairperson -- Madhav Kumar Nepal and KP Sharma Oli -- filed their candidacies on 10 July. The competition between the two rival panels is so fierce that there is no common candidate proposed by both the panels whereas there were several candidates proposed by both the sides in the past.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, 11 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Highest economic growth in six years

The government said on 10 July that a favourable monsoon, an investment-friendly environment and a timely budget were the major reasons behind economic growth reaching close to the targeted 5.5 percent in the current fiscal year.

The government?Ls economic survey, which is prepared on the basis of data for eight months, says that economic growth will be 5.2 percent, which is the highest in the past six years. The government?Ls economic survey, which is prepared on the basis of data for eight months, says that economic growth will be 5.2 percent, which is the highest in the past six years.

Unveiling the economic survey in parliament, Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat said that though growth has improved over the six years, bulging imports and the mobilization of deposits that have piled up in the banks and financial institutions for lack of investment outlets are major challenges facing the government.

Trade deficit for the first eight months is Rs 459 billion, and is likely to reach Rs 600 billion by the end of the fiscal year. The increment in the agricultural yield, including mainly paddy, is said to be a major factor in the growth rate. The manufacturing sector saw a growth of 2.7 percent in the first eight months. The country?Ls export has increased by 19.4 percent to Rs 60.90 billion. Due to the increment in remittances and grants and loans from development partners, the foreign exchange reserve has improved.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, 11 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Rights bodies’ call to fix TRC Act flaws

Three international human rights organisations called the government to immediately fix ’crucial flaws’ in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission of Inquiry of Disappeared Persons Act to ensure justice to the decade-long Maoist insurgency victims.

In a joint statement at New York, the Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists called the government to do what was recently underlined by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

On 1 July, the OHCHR had pointed out that the TRC Act did not conform to Nepal’s international legal obligations, as it allowed amnesty for crimes committed under international law. The rights bodies also stated that in January the SC had rejected an earlier version of the TRC Ordinance, which contained many of the same flawed provisions but the Parliament passed new TRC Act with slight modification.

In its briefing paper issued in May, Justice Denied: the 2014 Commission on Investigation of Disappeared Persons, Truth and Reconciliation Act, the ICJ had highlighted the flaws in the new TRC Act and had called on the government to take active steps to implement the Supreme Court’s orders.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Himalayan Times, 10 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Discussions with India on military cooperation

India and Nepal have discussed military cooperation including defence hardware and information sharing during a two-day security meeting in Kathmandu. The 11th meeting of Nepal-India Bilateral Consultative Group (BCG) on Security Issues concluded in Kathmandu on 7 July.

During the meeting, both sides discussed the overall cooperation between Nepal and India in the areas of defence and security, according to a Press release issued by the Nepalese Foreign Ministry.

"The meeting mainly focused on military training, defence hardware, and information-sharing. The meeting also reviewed the progress made on the decision taken in 10th BCG meeting," the ministry said without giving details.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Economic Times, 7 July 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Over half million IDPs registered

Over half a million people displaced by the military operation in North Waziristan have been registered so far. A freshly consolidated report, submitted to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, puts the number of registered internally displaced persons (IDPs) at 572,529.At least 44,633 families have fled their homes in the restive tribal agency after the military launched Operation Zarb-i-Azb, targeting terrorist sanctuaries in the area, according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The spiralling number of displaced people is alarming, as many fear the government and other aid agencies may not be able to cope with such a large number of refugees. About 5,000 food packages, weighing 110 kilograms each, are being distributed every day at 11 distribution points and non-food items, such as household goods, have also been distributed among 31,000 families. The finance ministry has so far released Rs1.5 billion for the IDPs. The army has also established 33 points countrywide to collect donations from the general public.

< class="text11verdana">Source:Dawn, 7 July2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Controversy over the foreign aid to IDPs

The Nawaz Sharif government has suffered a serious blow to its already fragile political credibility on question of assistance to hundreds of thousands of people displaced as result of military operation in North Wazirsitan. Contrary to its claims that all the IDPs are being looked after through national resources and government does not need any foreign assistance, important friendly countries including the US and the UAE have already contributed foreign assistance worth of millions of dollars.

On Monday during an Iftar reception hosted by the Ambassador of United Arab Emirates (UAE), which apart from several federal ministers was attended by the envoys of the US, China, Iran and some Arab countries. Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar and Abdul Qadir Baloch were among the attendees, interestingly, none of the two ministers stood up and corrected the ambassador on their government’s policy regarding foreign assistance for IDPs.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was the first guest minister who left the venue soon after the Iftar speech delivered by the UAE ambassador, thus leaving an impression on the audience that he was perhaps avoiding the media. Minister Abdul Qadir Baloch, who is directly monitoring the state of IDPs, also left soon after. But US ambassador Richard Olson while leaving the venue did reiterate that his country has so far contributed $8 million worth of essential aid for the IDPs.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Nation, 8 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Jets pound militants in NWA

The Pakistan Air Force fighter jets on Tuesday again pounded seven suspected hideouts of militants in North Waziristan and reportedly killed 13 terrorists. The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) issued a brief statement to the media about the latest air strikes in the Degan village, which had been attacked earlier as well.

The Press release didn’t provide further details about the air strikes and the identity of the slain militants. It was the second time that jet fighters carried out bombing in Dattakhel after the launch of the military operation in North Waziristan on June 15. Also, despite repeated warnings by the military authorities and local political administration, the majority of the residents are said to be still residing in Dattakhel and its adjoining villages.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The International News, 9 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Local group declares allegiance to ISIS

A Pakistani terror group has become the first in the region to break ranks and declare allegiance to the Islamic State that has seized power across Iraq and Syria.

It represents a breakthrough for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as he tries to win support for his caliphate, potentially extending his influence into South Asia and bolstering his challenge to al-Qaeda for leadership of the global jihadist movement.

Little is known about the Tehreek-e-Khilafat group other than that it has claimed responsibility for a string of attacks in Karachi. This week it pledged to raise the Islamic State’s flag in South Asia and Khurasan - the historic name used by Islamist militants for an area covering Afghanistan and Pakistan.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Tolo News, 11 July 2014

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Modi Govt against UN probe on SL

The Narendra Modi government will not support a UN probe into alleged human rights violations by Sri Lankan forces against Tamils, New Delhi has told Colombo.

When the UPA government had adopted the same position, sections within the BJP had criticised it but most senior leaders were reportedly with the official position.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told visiting Sri Lankan counterpart G.L. Peiris that the Modi government would uphold the objections to a UN probe that India had articulated in April while abstaining from a vote against Colombo.

"We feel that international bodies need to address human rights concerns in a cooperative manner with the countries concerned, and not in a punitive manner," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said after the meeting.

Peiris had arrived in Hyderabad a day earlier for talks with Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu on a $1-b garment-manufacturing town set up by a Lankan firm near Visakhapatnam. He later reached Delhi for his first direct talks with Sushma after she became EAM.

Sushma’s message to Peiris is significant because the BJP had, in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, criticised the UPA government for what it dubbed a soft foreign policy attitude towards Colombo.

Modi, in his campaign speeches in Tamil Nadu, had questioned how the UPA government had allowed a small nation like Sri Lanka to "look India in the eye" by repeatedly arresting Indian fishermen off its coast.

When India abstained from the UN vote against Sri Lanka in April, the Tamil Nadu BJP accused the Congress-led Union Government of ignoring the concerns of Sri Lankan Tamils.

At the Delhi meeting, Sushma "thanked" Peiris for the "fast-track" release of Indian fishermen by Sri Lanka — not just since the Modi government was sworn in but throughout 2014, including the months when the BJP was accusing the Congress of being soft on Colombo.

Since January, 804 Indian fishermen have been released from Lankan jails, including 249 since the May 26 swearing-in, the Foreign Ministry said.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Telegraph, Kolkata, Daily Mirror Online, 11 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Army recruits Tamil tradesmen

The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) has recruited its first batch of Tamil youth from Mullaitivu as tradesmen.

Earlier, army recruited 30 female Tamil civilians in the area, and they now have started their career in the army after undergoing successful training.

The newly-enlisted batch was addressed by the 59 Division Commander, Maj-Gen A. S. de Z Wickramaratne, under the direction of Security Force Commander, Mullaitivu, Maj-Gen Jagath Dias. Speaking in Tamil, he stressed that as soldiers they should join hands with one and all develop the country as members of one family.

They will have to undergo 16-week weapons training and also will be able to serve in the same district.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Island, 11 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">The Island, 11 July 2014

Northern Province Governor G.A. Chandrasiri, whose tenure ended on Friday, was re-appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Government Information Department announced.

He was sworn in as the Governor of Northern Province by the President at ’Temple Trees’. The Governor will hold office for a period of five years as per the Constitution. He was initially appointed Governor of the Northern Province on 12 July 2009, the very day he retired from the Sri Lanka Army as a Major-General and Commander of Jaffna.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror Online 11 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Funds placed in Swiss banks via Seychelles: UNP

The Opposition United National Party (UNP) has said that there was a trend where black money, including money swindled from development projects, was being deposited in Swiss banks through Seychelles because Switzerland was tightening its laws.

It said that though all funds deposited in Swiss banks were not ill-gotten lucre a large amount of such funds were deposited concealing the true identity.

UNP parliamentarian and economist Harsha de Silva said the quantum of funds deposited in Swiss banks under Sri Lankan addresses had decreased in recent years because of strict laws adopted by Switzerland while deposits through Seychelles had drastically increased.

"The population in Seychelles is slightly more than 90,000 but the deposits under the addresses of that country are worth about 3,000 million Swiss Francs last year, which is higher than the accumulated deposits under Sri Lankan addresses," he said.

Dr. De Silva said most of the addresses in Seychelles are of companies which are registered within another company.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror Online 11 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ranil takes up cudgels for NGOs

UNP Leader of the Opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe has accused the government of ’attempting to tear up the Constitution’ of the country by preventing non-governmental organisations from holding news conferences, workshops, training for journalists and distributing Press releases.

In a statement, Wickremesinghe said that it was a blatant attempt by the government to control all non-governmental organisations. He said that former LTTE arms procurer KP had been permitted to form an NGO and operate in the North and East. He challenged the government to stop him, too, if possible.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Island 10 July 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Preliminary results declared, Ghani leads

The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) declared the preliminary results of the run off residential elections on 7 July. Dr Ashraf Ghani is in the lead having garnered about 56.44 percent of the votes, while his rival Dr Abdullah Abdullah got 43.56 percent of the votes. The difference between the two candidates was slightly more than a million votes.

This was a reversal of the first round in which Dr Abdullah was in the lead and had got roughly 47 percent of the votes, just short of the majority that would have nullified the need for the second round of elections.

The announcement of the preliminary results comes against the backdrop of allegations of electoral fraud. Dr Abdullah’s team, over the past three weeks, have claimed that the run off was marred by severe fraud with there being as many as 2 million fraudulent votes.

Soon after the declaration of the preliminary results, he rejected the results. The results had sparked off protests in Kabul with a number of high profile and influential people also joining in. His supporters called the results a "coup" by the IEC and urged Dr Abdullah to declare his own parallel government.

Such suggestions were refuted by Dr Abdullah, who claimed that he didn’t want a civil war but stability for the country. Although he said that he was willing to make sacrifices for the sake of the country, he would not accept the results of an unfair process. While addressing a gathering of his supporters, he declared that he was the actual winner of the elections, but called upon his supporters to remain patient while he contemplated his next move.

The IEC declared that the preliminary results, by no means, should be treated as the final result, which is expected to be announced on 22 July. As million of votes still have to be investigated, the final verdict could change.

Dr Ghani defended the credibility of the electoral process, but called upon the IEC to move ahead with the vote investigation in a timely and fair manner.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Tolo News, 7-8 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US warns against ’power-grabbing’

The US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned the two presidential candidates that any move to capture power through extra-legal means could cost Afghanistan the military and financial support of the US.

Mr Kerry said, "We call on all Afghan leaders to maintain calm in order to preserve the gains of the last decade. There is no justifiable recourse to violence...or for resort to extra-constitutional measures or threats of the same".

Mr Kerry arrived in Afghanistan on 11 July to find a possible solution to the political deadlock. The campaign teams of two candidates have, however, maintained that the US or any other third party should only have an advisory and facilitating role in ending the current deadlock.

The incumbent President, Hamid Karzai, in the meanwhile also issued a statement in which he said that he would welcome mediation from a third party to break the deadlock. He also agreed with the UN mission proposal to audit as many as 8000 polling sites, which is equivalent to 3.5 million votes or 43.5 percent of the votes.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Khaama Press, 11 July 2014; Tolo News, 10 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">EU finds many inconsistencies

The European Union Election Assessment Team (EUEAT) announced this week the need of an all-inclusive audit of polling stations that affects one-third of the polling sites and 4.2 million votes.

EU Chief Observer Thijs Berman stated that "at this stage of the analysis of the preliminary results, and without an in-depth audit, the final result is as yet uncertain and it is not possible to declare a winner, given the very high number of votes yet to be validated or annulled".

< class="text11verdana">Source: Tolo News, 10 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Civilian casualties on the rise

According to the UN Assistant Mission in Afghanistan’s (UNAMA) mid-year report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, the civilian casualties in the country in the first six months of 2014 increased by 24 percent as compared to the same period in 2013.

According to the report, there were a total of 4853 casualties. Casualties among children increased by 34 percent with 295 killed and 776 injured. The casualties among women increased by 24 percent, including 148 killed and 292 injured.

The report states that ground warfare has greatly increased the number of casualties, especially among the children and women, causing two of every five civilian deaths. IED’s are the second leading cause of death this year, taking the lives of 1,463 civilians, an increase of seven percent from 2013.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Tolo News, 9 July 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">IMBL row with India resolved

In a landmark judgement The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) has awarded Bangladesh 19,467 sq km, out of the disputed 25,602 sq km area, in settling the India-Bangladesh maritime boundary dispute in the Bay of Bengal.

The PCA has also sustained Bangladesh’s claims for an equitable solution to a full 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone in the Bay of Bengal and to a substantial share of the extended continental shelf beyond 200 NM.

In its verdict, the PCA had concluded the "equi-distance" method proposed for dividing the disputed waters between the two neighbouring countries was not equitable to Bangladesh, Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali said at a news conference in Dhaka.

The PCA verdict cannot be appealed against and is binding on both Dhaka and New Delhi, the Minister said.

With this verdict, which came after five years of arguments by countries and spot visit by the judges, Bangladesh’s maritime disputes with its two neighbours - Myanmar and India - have ended.

It can be recalled on 14 March 2012, in its maritime dispute with Myanmar, Bangladesh sustained its claim to the 200 nautical-miles, and exclusive economic and territorial waters in the Bay of Bengal through a verdict of the Germany-based International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). Bangladesh had initiated the arbitration processes with regard to its maritime dispute with Myanmar and India in October 2009.

"Bangladesh finally won more than 118,813 sq km of waters comprising territorial sea and exclusive economic zone extending out to 200 NM across sizable area. The country has also earned undeniable sovereign rights in the seabed extending as far as 354 NM from the Chittagong coast in the Bay of Bengal with all the living and non-living resources," the foreign minister informed.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Independent, 9 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Poverty to go up 15 pc

Poverty rates will increase around 15 per cent, by 2030, in Bangladesh, due to climate change, if proper initiatives are not taken to reduce the climate change risks, the executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), Dr Iftekharuzzaman, informed this week. The TIB chief also proposed forming a high-powered commission to ensure transparency in using climate change funds.

About 2.70 crore Bangladeshi will be affected by 2050, if the sea-level rises. As a result, production of paddy and wheat will decline to 8 and 32 percent, respectively, by 2050, as temperature will increase, along with the levels of saline water in agricultural land, with the rise in sea level," he said, quoting data from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

It would lead to rise in prevalence of malaria and dengue, due to climate change, the TIB report said. The TIB chief made this commente during lauch of a report on ’Good governance on climate financing: Organizational and practical progress, challenge and possibility’, at Dhaka this week.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Independent, 10 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">EPZ workers get rights to union

The Cabinet has approved a draft law protecting Export Processing Zone (EPZ) workers’ right to freedom of association; a week after an unpleasant US review came on the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).

According to the proposed law, at least 30 percent workers of a factory within an export processing zone will have to apply for registration to form an association. After registration with the Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority (Bepza), the association’s executive committee will be elected for one year. Currently, Bangladesh laws does not allow trade union in the EPZs.

On June 27, 2013, US President Obama announced his decision to suspend Bangladesh’s trade benefits under the GSP, citing serious shortcomings in workplace safety and labour rights. The US also provided Bangladesh with an action plan which listed conditions, including reform of EPZ rules, for reviving the GSP status.

GSP is a programme designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 5,000 products when imported from one of 123 designated beneficiary countries and territories.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Star, 8 July 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pillars missing on border with India

More than 2,700 border pillars along India’s open border with Nepal have either gone "missing" or are "damaged", setting alarm bells ringing in the internal security establishment of the country.

The condition of these crucial security structures is not only bad along this fenceless 1,751-km long border on the eastern flank of the country, but also along the Bhutan frontier where close to 900 border pillars are either damaged or have simply vanished.

According to a latest confidential report sent by the field formations of security agencies to the Ministry of Home Affairs (updated till June, 2014), a total of 1,451 border pillars are "missing" while 1,282 have been "damaged" along the Indo-Nepal border over a period of time.

This frontier, notorious for the movement of smugglers and terrorists, has a total of 6,402 such structures, which are used by border guarding force SSB as a guide for patrolling and area domination.

In the absence of these structures, the SSB troops, for some time now, have begun using grid references on their GPS devices or marking local landmarks to patrol the Indian side.

The border pillars along both the Indo-Nepal and Indo- Bhutan borders are tall white-coloured cylindrical structures made of cement and stone bearing the names of both countries, respectively.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Outlook, 6 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Setting up of Japanese embassy likely

Bhutan will consider the establishment of a Japanese embassy in Thimphu at a later date.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay who recently visited Japan on an official trip said that the government would consider and discuss Japan’s proposal to establish an embassy in Bhutan at a more convenient time.

"We didn’t discuss specifics, we decided that we’d consider the proposal at a mutually convenient date," he said. Tobgay did not specify when this mutually convenient time could occur. He also did not confirm whether the Japanese proposal would be considered within the present government’s term.

"We didn’t discuss when the mutually convenient date is," he said, adding "It’s an open date which has to be mutually convenient." The Japanese embassy in New Delhi also did not provide any specifics.

"Although we prefer not to comment on the details, we intend to further strengthen the relationship with Bhutan," a spokesperson for the embassy said by email.

"Whether or not we should open overseas missions in new locations, including Bhutan, is being studied, taking into consideration a larger picture of how they should be placed around the world," said the embassy official.

The establishment of a Japanese embassy was raised during a visit to Bhutan by a Japanese politician, who was then the chairman of the standing committee on foreign affairs of the Japanese house of representatives, in August last year. He had said then that the Japanese lower house would support the Japanese government’s initiative to establish an embassy in Thimphu.

Bhutan and Japan established diplomatic relations in 1986. Bhutan has been receiving Japanese assistance since 1964. Bhutan currently has diplomatic relations with 53 countries, of which 28 were established between 2011-13.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Kuensel Online, 10 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SAFTA ministerial council meets

The eighth meeting of the South Asia free trade area (SAFTA) ministerial council will be held in the capital on 24 July. This will be the first time Bhutan will host the SAFTA ministerial council (SMC).

The SMC will discuss and consider the report of the ninth meeting of the SAFTA committee of experts.

Economic affairs minister Norbu Wangchuk, who will chair the SMC, said the meeting would also consider discussing matters related to the administration and implementation of the SAFTA agreement and trade services under SAFTA.

The SMC is the highest decision-making body of SAFTA responsible for the administration and implementation of the agreement. Lyonpo also said the SMC will take place after the completion of the SAFTA committee of experts meeting on 22-23 July.

The commerce and trade ministers of the SAARC member states and the secretary general of the SAARC will attend the meeting. Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said SAFTA not only fostered the regional economic cooperation but also laid strong foundations in the building of South Asian Economic Union.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Kuensel Online, 10 July 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nurses return home

Forty-six nurses, who were held captive by ISIS militants in Iraq, returned home by a special Air India flight, bringing to an end their month-long ordeal. The special aircraft with 137 others on board touched down at Kochi International Airport. They were greeted by hugely relieved family members. Chief Minister Ommen Chandy was also present.

The ordeal of the nurses, who were working at a hospital in Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, began when ISIS (Islamic State for Iraq and Syria) militants launched an offensive in that region on 9 June. Even as Indian authorities continued to maintain constant touch with their counterparts at Iraq for safe release of nurses, they were moved out against their will and detained in the militant-held city of Mosul. Efforts by the External Affairs Ministry led to their release.

Besides the nurses, the flight also carried 137 other Indian nationals, including 70 from Kirkuk in the northern part of Iraq, 23 crew members and three government officials, including a joint-secretary level IFS officer and an IAS woman officer from Kerala.

< class="text11Verdana">Source: Times of India, 5 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Income-tax sops in Budget-2014

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the 2014 budget in Parliament on 10 July, stressing on fiscal prudence and saying that India "cannot afford to spend beyond its means". The tax exemption limit was raised by Rs 50,000 to Rs 2.5 lakh a year. The finance minister also raised the exemption limit for senior citizens to Rs. 3 lakh. He hiked the exemption limit on long-term financial savings by Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 1.5 lakh a year and raised the tax-free cap on home loan interest from Rs. 1.5 to Rs. 2 lakh.

The minister promised more clarity on the goods and services tax (GST) before the year end. The GST is seen as the single-biggest fiscal reform in the country - it aims to widen the tax base, improve tax compliance and reduce transaction costs of businesses. Mr Jaitley also made announcements on foreign direct investment in several sectors noting it would help manufacturing and employment. Mr Jaitley has proposed that FDI be raised from 26 per cent to 49 per cent in both defence and insurance.

Regarding allocations, the budget proposed Rs 100 crore for metro projects in Lucknow and Ahmedabad, Rs 2,037 crore for Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission called ’Namami Gange’, Rs 150 crore allocated for increasing safety of women in large cities, and Rs. 7,060 crore for the project of developing 100 Smart Cities.

< class="text11verdana">Source: NDTV; The Hindu, 10 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Railway budget outlines FDI, ’Bullet trains’

In the new government’s railway budget, Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda announced a network of high-speed bullet trains and proposed increased foreign and private investment to modernize the over-stretched, loss-making railways network.

There were no additional passenger fare increases in the budget. The government had recently increased passenger fares by 14.2 percent, which were partially rolled back after protests. Mr. Gowda proposed 58 new trains and promised improved food, Wi-Fi on board, discounts on return tickets, and cleaner, safer trains and stations. The Railway Budget also proposed easier ticket booking with a goal of 7,200 e-bookings per minute.

The number of new trains announced is the lowest in several years. The Minister accused previous governments of running the Indian Railways for political benefit, announcing populist measures rather than bringing in revenue.

Mr. Gowda told Parliament that the ministry would seek cabinet approval for FDI in the rail sector except for operations. He said the government would encourage private sector investments to bridge the railways’ funding gap in areas such as infrastructure projects and station development. "Bulk of our future projects will be financed through the PPP mode, including the high-speed rail which requires huge investments," Gowda said.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Mint, 8 July 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">FM leaves for Colombo to discuss Russian’s detention

Minister of Foreign Affairs Dunya Maumoon and Attorney-General Mohamed Anil departed for Colombo, Sri Lanka, to discuss the arrest of alleged Russian hacker Roman Valerevich Seleyznev in the Maldives. During the visit, they will meet with senior officials of the Russian Embassy in Colombo and share information related to Seleyznev’s arrest and his handing over to the US Special Forces, for immediate transfer.

A spokesperson at the US Embassy in Colombo said on Wednesday that the apprehension of Seleyznev was a law-enforcement action based solely on law enforcement considerations by Maldivian authorities.

"The indictment in this case was returned by a US court in March 2011, and thus long predates any current issues involving Russia and the US. It has nothing to do with any of those issues. Nor was this a ’kidnapping’ or in any way illegal," said the US Embassy spokesperson. The spokesperson also said that Seleyznev was arrested following his expulsion from another country, acting under its own laws, and that he was advised of his rights and given consular notification.

Seleyznev, the son of Russian Member of Parliament, Victor Seleyznev, was arrested on 5 July at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) in the Maldives. Russian newspaper RT has reported that he was put on a flight to Guam, a US territory in the western Pacific Ocean.

The Russian government has said that it considers Seleyznev’s arrest as "a new hostile move by Washington", and has accused Washington of ignoring proper procedure in dealing with foreign nationals suspected of crimes. Moscow has also demanded that the Maldives government provides necessary explanations for Seleyznev’s arrest.

Before Minister Dunya’s visit, a team of Maldivian government officials also visited the Russian Embassy in Colombo a day earlier, and "explained the situation regarding sending the Russian national from the Maldives in response to an Interpol Red-Notice".

< class="text11verdana">Source: SunOnline 11 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Councils do not accept Govt’s ’executive power’

Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Dr Mohamed Muizzu has said that some local councils do not accept that the executive power, in the system of separation of the three State powers, is vested in the government.

"Some councils do not accept that the government is the policy-maker. They do not accept that, in the separation of State powers, the government is the Executive branch and the local councils are a layer within the government. This poses several difficulties," he said.

In this regard, he said that some councils lease and sell lands without seeking government consent, and efforts are ongoing by the government to put an end to this practice.

He noted that agreements are put in place when lands are handed over to councils, and stressed that the councils cannot lease lands in violation of these agreements. The Housing Ministry recently notified all councils to ensure that relevant government policies are followed in the use of lands for different purposes, and also to seek permission from the President when leasing lands.

< class="text11verdana">Source: SunOnline 11 July 2014

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:
Bhutan & Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale
Nepal: Pratnashree Basu;
Pakistan: Bhavya Pandey;
Afghanistan: Aryaman Bhatnagar;
Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharje;
India: Niharika Betkerur;
Maldives & Sri Lanka: N Sathiya Moorthy

The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.


N. Sathiya Moorthy

N. Sathiya Moorthy

N. Sathiya Moorthy is a policy analyst and commentator based in Chennai.

Read More +