Row erupts over Maldives’ Nasheed representing Lanka at COP27

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Other prominent Maldivian politicians including former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom too have criticised Nasheed…writes Rahul Kumar

Former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed is at the COP Summit in Egypt as a climate change hero. Back home he is in the news for representing neighbouring Sri Lanka at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) event.

In Sri Lanka, the opposition parties are asking their government as to how Nasheed was made the representative at the climate change summit for a sovereign country.

Nasheed, a liberal politician advocating for democracy and climate change action, does not have many admirers back home. On Thursday, lawyer Ahmed Tholib filed a case before the Supreme Court pleading to remove Nasheed from the Parliament–where Nasheed is also the Speaker, reports the Maldivian media.

Citing Article 75 of the Maldivian Constitution, Tholib said that Nasheed’s representation of Sri Lanka at the COP 27 summit is contrary to his duties as an MP. The constitution says that “MPs should act in national interest and the welfare of the people. The Constitution also states that no member shall use his position to promote the personal interest of himself or any other person with whom he has a special relationship”.

A man walks past a board showing the 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, Nov. 5, 2022. (Xinhua/Sui Xiankai/IANS)

Other prominent Maldivian politicians including former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom too have criticised Nasheed.

Meanwhile in Sri Lanka, opposition party MP Nalin Bandara questioned his government as to why Nasheed was sent as a representative of Sri Lanka and not a Sri Lankan national.

Nasheed enjoys much respect in Sri Lanka.

Barely a month back, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe had appointed Nasheed as his International Climate Advisor.

Earlier in May this year, during the peak of the Sri Lankan economic crisis, Wickremesinghe had appointed Nasheed as aid advisor as well. International relations experts had told India Narrative that the move was to help Sri Lanka in international negotiations over humanitarian aid.

Known globally for holding an underwater cabinet meeting of his ministers to highlight the risk of global warming for small islands like the Maldives, Nasheed is a known climate hero.

Many people in his country have risen to his defence.

Communications Director of the Maldivian parliament, Hassan Ziyau said that Nasheed’s expenses for the trip are being borne by the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) — a group of countries most affected by climate change.

Another defence in favour of Nasheed was that environment issues represent the whole of humanity and the Maldives and Sri Lanka being island nations share similar policies on climate change issues.

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