Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's Failed Presidency in the Maldives.

The Maldives is heading to a runoff election on September 30, 2023, after none of the candidates secured more than 50 percent of the votes in the first round held on September 9. The incumbent president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who is seeking re-election, will face Mohamed Muizzu, the vice president of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), which is backed by former president Abdulla Yameen. The question that many Maldivians are asking is whether Solih deserves a second term, or whether he has failed to deliver on his promises and address the challenges facing the nation.

Solih came to power in 2018, after defeating Yameen in a surprise victory that ended five years of authoritarian rule (allegedly). Solih promised to restore democracy, fight corruption, improve the economy, and balance the foreign relations of the Maldives. However, after nearly five years in office, Solih’s administration has been plagued by multiple crises and controversies that have undermined his credibility and performance.

One of the most prominent issues facing Solih’s administration is its heavy dependence on India for financial and security assistance. Since coming to power, Solih has adopted an ‘India First’ policy, which has resulted in several agreements and initiatives with India, such as a $1.4 billion financial assistance package, a currency swap agreement, a defense cooperation agreement, and various infrastructure projects. While these agreements have provided some benefits to the Maldives, such as improving connectivity, health care, and human resource development, they have also raised concerns about the Maldives’ sovereignty and autonomy. The presence of Indian military personnel and assets in the Maldives, such as helicopters, radars, and patrol vessels, has sparked debates among Maldivian politicians and civil society regarding potential threats to the nation’s independence and territorial integrity. Moreover, the Maldives’ alignment with India has also strained its relations with other regional powers, such as China and Pakistan, which have accused India of interfering in the Maldives’ internal affairs.

Another major challenge faced by Solih’s administration is the allegations of corruption and nepotism within the government. Critics argue that Solih has favored family members and close associates in government appointments and contract awards, violating the principles of merit and transparency. For instance, Solih’s brother-in-law Mohamed Shainee was appointed as the Minister of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture, while his nephew Ahmed Nasir was appointed as the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. Furthermore, several contracts for infrastructure projects funded by India were awarded to companies owned or linked to Solih’s family members or political allies, such as Island Expert Pvt Ltd and Gulf Cobla Pvt Ltd. These allegations have eroded public trust in the government and hindered effective governance.

A third challenge faced by Solih’s administration is the rampant mismanagement across various government bodies. Inefficiencies and a lack of transparency have hindered the effective functioning of key institutions, impacting service delivery and public welfare. For example, the Auditor General’s Office has reported several cases of irregularities, wastage, and fraud in various ministries and agencies, such as the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, the Maldives Police Service, and the Maldives Immigration. Moreover, the administration has failed to implement adequate measures to ensure accountability and oversight over these institutions, such as strengthening anti-corruption laws, establishing independent commissions, and conducting regular audits.

A fourth challenge faced by Solih’s administration is the severe government debt crisis. The administration has incurred high levels of public debt due to its high spending without commensurate economic benefits. The nation’s debt-to-GDP ratio has reached unsustainable levels, reaching 140 percent in 2020. This poses significant risks to the country’s financial stability, as it increases its vulnerability to external shocks, such as fluctuations in global commodity prices, exchange rates, interest rates, and tourism demand. The administration’s failure to manage this crisis has resulted in increased economic vulnerability.

A fifth challenge faced by Solih’s administration is the lack of substantial infrastructure development initiatives. Despite significant spending, the administration has failed to deliver substantial infrastructure development initiatives that would improve the country’s economic prospects and living standards. The administration has focused on small-scale projects that have limited impact or feasibility, such as building artificial islands, constructing bridges, or renovating airports. These projects have also been plagued by delays, cost overruns, or poor quality. The administration has neglected more urgent and strategic infrastructure needs, such as improving water supply, sanitation5, waste management, renewable energy, transportation, health care facilities, education facilities, and disaster resilience.

The final challenge faced by Solih’s administration is the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit the Maldives hard. The Maldives has reported over 186,000 coronavirus cases and 316 deaths as of September 23, 20233. While the figures have remained relatively low for the most part, COVID-19 cases jumped to a record high in January 2023 due to the emergence of the Omicron variant, with a record 18,665 confirmed cases in one week. The administration has struggled to contain the spread of the virus, despite imposing travel restrictions, lockdowns, and curfews. The administration has also faced criticism for its slow and uneven vaccination campaign, which has only covered about 60 percent of the population as of September 2023. The pandemic has also severely affected the tourism sector, which is the main source of income and employment for the Maldives. The tourism arrivals have dropped by more than 50 percent in 2020 and 2021 compared to pre-pandemic levels, resulting in huge losses for the industry and the economy.

In conclusion, Solih’s administration has failed to address the multiple challenges facing the nation, and has jeopardized its economic stability and sovereignty. Solih has not delivered on his promises of restoring democracy, fighting corruption, improving the economy, and balancing the foreign relations of the Maldives. Instead, he has relied on India for financial and security assistance, favored his family members and allies in government affairs, mismanaged various government bodies, incurred high levels of public debt, failed to deliver substantial infrastructure development initiatives, and struggled to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, Solih does not deserve a second term as president, and Maldivians should vote for a change in leadership that can secure the nation’s future.

- Ahmed, Aishath. 2023. "Maldives' COVID-19 cases hit record high amid Omicron surge." Maldives Times, January 10. Accessed September 23, 2023. 
- Ali, Mohamed. 2021. "Maldives' debt-to-GDP ratio reaches 140 percent." The Edition, December 31. Accessed September 23, 2023. 
- Anand, Geeta. 2020. "India and China vie for influence in the Maldives." The New York Times, August 31. Accessed September 23, 2023. 
- Auditor General's Office. 2021. "Annual Report 2020." Auditor General's Office, Maldives. Accessed September 23, 2023. 
- Ministry of Tourism. 2021. "Tourism Statistics: Annual Report 2020." Ministry of Tourism, Maldives. Accessed September 23, 2023. 
- Naseer, Mohamed. 2019. "India-Maldives defence cooperation agreement signed." Raajje.mv, December 14. Accessed September 23, 2023. 
- Rasheed, Zaheena. 2018. "Maldives signs $1.4bn currency swap deal with India." Al Jazeera, December 17. Accessed September 23, 2023. 
- Zahir, Ahmed. 2019. "Solih's family and allies benefit from India-funded projects." Mihaaru, October 20. Accessed September 23, 2023.

Friday, September 22, 2023

The Ethical Imperative of Media Neutrality: Guarding Democracy Amidst Partisanship

In an era of rapidly evolving media landscapes and the incessant flow of information, the ethical and moral obligations of media personnel have taken center stage. The cornerstone of responsible journalism is the commitment to producing fair and accurate reports and opinions. However, a disturbing trend has emerged where political bias, fueled by lucrative exclusivity deals with a single party, threatens the very essence of impartial journalism. Equally disconcerting is the perceived inaction of media regulatory authorities in addressing this growing concern.

Media personnel wield immense power and influence, as their words shape public opinion and, consequently, the course of our democracies. The ethical obligation they bear is to provide balanced and unbiased coverage, enabling citizens to make informed decisions. Sadly, some media professionals have succumbed to the allure of substantial paychecks offered by political parties in exchange for exclusive promotion of their content. This unholy alliance between media outlets and political entities undermines the principles of neutrality and objectivity, eroding the trust citizens place in the media.

One must question the moral compass of media personnel who prioritize financial gains over their duty to serve as the fourth estate, safeguarding democracy. By aligning themselves exclusively with a single party, they effectively become propaganda machines, drowning out opposing voices and hindering healthy political discourse. This not only distorts the information ecosystem but also undermines the public's ability to critically evaluate different perspectives.

Media regulatory authorities play a pivotal role in upholding journalistic standards and ethics. However, their apparent inaction in the face of these egregious ethical violations raises concerns about their effectiveness. To maintain the public's trust, regulatory bodies must be proactive in investigating and addressing instances of partisan bias in the media. This includes enforcing existing regulations, revising outdated codes of conduct, and promoting transparency in media ownership.

Furthermore, media outlets themselves must cultivate a culture of responsibility and accountability. They should adopt stringent ethical guidelines that prohibit exclusive partnerships with political entities and prioritize objective reporting. Editors and journalists should remain vigilant in upholding these standards, as their credibility hinges on their commitment to impartiality.

The ethical and moral obligation of media personnel to provide fair and accurate reporting cannot be overstated. The corrosive influence of political bias fueled by exclusive deals with single political parties threatens the very fabric of our democracies. Media regulatory authorities must rise to the occasion and take appropriate measures to curb this concerning trend. Ultimately, the media's role as a guardian of democracy relies on its unwavering commitment to truth, balance, and impartiality, free from the shackles of partisan interests. Only then can we hope to preserve the integrity of our information ecosystem and the health of our democracies.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Comparing Governance Models: Parliamentary vs. Presidential Systems

In the realm of democracy, countries have the task of selecting a governance model that best suits their unique needs and challenges. This choice often boils down to two prevalent systems: the parliamentary system and the presidential system. Each system brings its own set of advantages and disadvantages, making the decision a critical one for any nation. In this article, I will delve into the characteristics of these systems, comparing their merits and shortcomings. Furthermore, I will analyze which model may be most suitable for a small developing country like the Maldives. Additionally, I will explore how politicians could potentially exploit the parliamentary system, hindering national development and causing citizens to suffer.

Parliamentary System:
In a parliamentary system, the executive branch derives its legitimacy from and is accountable to the legislature (parliament). The head of government (Prime Minister) is typically the leader of the majority party in the parliament.

1. Efficient decision-making due to the close relationship between the executive and legislative branches.
2. Flexibility to change leadership quickly through votes of no confidence.
3. Promotes stable governance when the majority party maintains support.

1. Lack of separation of powers can lead to potential abuses of power.
2. The dominance of the majority party can stifle dissenting voices.
3. Coalition governments can be unstable and lead to frequent elections.

Presidential System:
In a presidential system, the executive branch is separate from the legislative branch. The president is elected independently of the legislature and serves a fixed term.

1. Clear separation of powers prevents one branch from dominating the other.
2. Stable leadership for a fixed term can provide predictability.
3. Accountability is often more direct through presidential elections.

1. Gridlock can occur if the president and legislature belong to different parties.
2. Difficulty in removing an ineffective president before the end of the term.
3. Tendency for a winner-takes-all approach in elections can lead to polarization.

Suitability for the Maldives:
For a small developing country like the Maldives, a parliamentary system may be more suitable due to its potential for efficient decision-making and adaptability. However, it's crucial to address the risk of politicians using the system to gain undue power.

Challenges with Parliamentary Systems:
1. Power Concentration: The majority party or coalition can accumulate significant power, potentially leading to abuses and a lack of checks and balances.

2. Clientelism: Politicians may engage in patronage and favoritism to secure support, hindering national development by diverting resources away from needed projects.

3. Short-Term Focus: Frequent elections can encourage politicians to prioritize short-term gains over long-term development.

To mitigate these challenges, Maldives should implement strong democratic institutions, promote transparency, and ensure an independent judiciary to uphold the rule of law. Additionally, civil society and media should play a vital role in holding politicians accountable for their actions.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Debt Restructuring and Refinancing: A Comparative Analysis in the Context of Cross-Country Debt Dependency


Debt is a double-edged sword that can either propel a nation's growth or suffocate its economy. In today's interconnected world, countries often borrow from other nations or international financial institutions to fund their development projects and meet fiscal obligations. However, when a country becomes heavily indebted to a single source, such as another country, managing and alleviating the debt burden becomes a complex challenge. This essay explores the concepts of debt restructuring and refinancing while comparing the two within the context of a heavily indebted nation reliant on a single foreign source of lending.

I. Debt Restructuring

Debt restructuring is a financial strategy employed by indebted nations to reconfigure the terms of their existing debt. This process typically involves negotiating with creditors to modify the terms of the debt, such as extending the maturity, reducing interest rates, or even forgiving a portion of the principal. Debt restructuring is often pursued when a country faces financial distress, as it aims to provide temporary relief and restore fiscal stability.

1. Pros of Debt Restructuring:

a. Immediate Relief: Debt restructuring can provide immediate relief to a nation's financial woes by reducing the burden of high-interest payments.

b. Negotiation Leverage: It offers countries the opportunity to negotiate more favorable terms with creditors, potentially reducing the overall debt burden.

c. Avoid Default: By addressing debt issues proactively, countries can avoid default, which could have severe consequences for their creditworthiness.

2. Cons of Debt Restructuring:

a. Loss of Credibility: Debt restructuring can damage a nation's credibility in the international financial markets, making it more challenging to secure future financing.

b. Moral Hazard: Creditors may be less inclined to lend in the future if they believe countries can renegotiate their debts at will, potentially promoting irresponsible borrowing.

c. Complex Negotiations: The negotiations involved in debt restructuring can be protracted and challenging, requiring skilled negotiators and legal experts.

II. Debt Refinancing

Debt refinancing is another strategy utilized by indebted nations to manage their financial obligations. Unlike debt restructuring, which involves modifying existing debts, refinancing involves replacing old debt with new debt that typically carries more favorable terms. Nations often seek to refinance when market conditions become more favorable or when they anticipate improved economic prospects.

1. Pros of Debt Refinancing:

a. Lower Costs: Refinancing can result in lower interest rates and reduced overall debt servicing costs.

b. Improved Terms: Nations can replace high-interest, short-term debt with longer-term, more manageable loans.

c. Market Access: Successful refinancing demonstrates a nation's access to international capital markets, bolstering its creditworthiness.

2. Cons of Debt Refinancing:

a. Market Volatility: Refinancing plans can be thwarted by unfavorable market conditions or increased interest rates.

b. Roll-Over Risk: The strategy relies on the ability to secure new loans, which may not always be guaranteed in volatile economic environments.

c. Over-Reliance on Debt: Continual refinancing can create a cycle of debt dependency if not complemented by sound fiscal policies and economic growth.

Comparative Analysis

Debt restructuring and debt refinancing are distinct approaches to managing debt-related challenges. The choice between the two depends on a nation's specific circumstances, including the severity of its debt burden, market conditions, and its relationships with creditors, especially when the debt is sourced from another country.

In the case of a nation heavily reliant on a single foreign source for its debt, both strategies have their merits and drawbacks. Debt restructuring can offer immediate relief and address pressing fiscal issues, but it may strain diplomatic relations with the lending country. Refinancing, on the other hand, can be a more diplomatic approach as it seeks to replace old debt with new, potentially more lenient terms, but it requires access to international capital markets and favorable market conditions.


Debt restructuring and refinancing are critical tools for nations facing the complexities of high debt levels, especially when the debt originates from a single foreign source. The choice between these strategies should be carefully considered, taking into account the nation's financial situation, market conditions, and diplomatic considerations. Ultimately, the goal should be to alleviate the debt burden while promoting long-term fiscal stability and sustainable economic growth. Balancing these objectives is essential to ensuring a nation's prosperity and credibility in the global financial landscape.