Maldives names seasoned diplomat as new foreign minister

President Yameen (R) shakes the hand of Dr Mohamed Asim shortly after his appointment as the new foreign minister. PHOTO/PRESIDENT'S OFFICE

President Yameen (R) shakes the hand of Dr Mohamed Asim shortly after his appointment as the new foreign minister. PHOTO/PRESIDENT’S OFFICE

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on Wednesday appointed seasoned diplomat Dr Mohamed Asim as the new foreign minister.

Dr Asim joined the foreign service in 2004 and was serving as the High Commissioner of Maldives for Bangladesh prior to his appointment as the country’s top diplomat.

He had also served as the Ambassador at Large at the foreign ministry, Maldives High Commissioner to UK, and Sri Lanka, and as non-resident Ambassador to EU, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Dr Asim has a PhD in Political Science and International Relations from the Australian National University.

He replaces president Yameen’s niece Dhunya Maumoon who suddenly stepped down last week over what she described as a profound differences of opinion with the government’s bid to enforce the death penalty.

Foreign Minister Dhunya Maumoon pictured during a press conference. MIHAARU FILE PHOTO

Foreign Minister Dhunya Maumoon pictured during a press conference. MIHAARU FILE PHOTO

Dhunya’s sudden resignation comes in the wake of a widening rift between her father former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and her uncle, president Yameen.

The rift between the two brothers widened over a government proposed controversial amendment to the Tourism Act.

Gayoom had moved quickly to assume full control of the party amid a fallout from his failed attempt to get his party lawmakers to vote down the amendment which sought to bypass the bidding process in island lease for tourism.

However, the government controlled parliament on Wednesday passed the amendment with all the ruling party lawmakers except two, voting to defy Gayoom .

Gayoom after announcing a reform program in a bid to wrestle back control of his party told reporters that the amendment to the Tourism Act was a clear violation of the party’s charter.

PPM lawmakers loyal to president Yameen had decided to amend the law putting an age cap of 65 years for political party leaders in a bid to oust Gayoom.

The amendment would effectively put an end to Gayoom’s rein as the PPM leader.

The PPM parliamentary group’s decision to oust Gayoom who is now 80 came shortly after a sit-down with president Yameen.

Gayoom had also recently rejected a petition by the party council to gift the party’s presidential ticket to president Yameen for his re-election in 2018 without a primary.

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