I want to thank you for joining me tonight to celebrate the Independence Day here in the Maldives. For most of my career I have been standing on that side of the podium with you all, while serving in posts in Afghanistan, Yemen, Lebanon and Bangladesh and many other countries. So it’s a wonderful honour to stand before my former colleagues to celebrate my second Independence Day as President of this country.
For any nation, Independence Day is a powerful moment to reflect and consider where the country has been and where we hope to go as a democratic and lawful country.
It is a chance to dream about the ways our children and their children will have more opportunities and security than we did as we fought for our freedom. And it is a moment to look back with humility and forgiveness for those who did not always uphold democratic values but who still made valuable contributions that will be everlasting.
Last night, at our official celebration I had an opportunity to address the nation and talk about some of these dreams and memories that all Maldivians have of our nascent democracy and the rule that preceded the 2008 Constitution.
I wanted to stress that just like our religion, we must have a level of faith in the democratic process. We must trust that our democratic values will support us and continue to push us to new levels of freedom and equality.
And along with that faith, we as a society have an obligation to continue to edit and refine the laws and systems of our government until, they represent who we are as Maldivians as well as who we are to the rest of the world.
Last night I also spoke about what it was like to be sworn-in as the President. And for me, the question I had to ask myself at that particular moment in time was not, should I do this, but rather what are the ramifications of not doing it. If our system is so weak, so encumbered that it cannot support an orderly, constitutionally mandated exchange of powers, then what do we have?
If violence, burning down parts of our own islands, destroying remnants of our heritage and accusing each other of unthinkable crimes becomes how we conduct ourselves under the guise of an independent and democratic society then that is what will be upheld as the standard for decades or even centuries to come.
I am hopeful and very optimistic that we are moving through the trauma of our past and I see a way forward. There is a path and it must be innovative and new and it must merge our hope for a free and democratic society with our Islamic values instead of treating them like two things which do not align.
What I am hopeful for, as we celebrate 48 years of Independence is for us to continue to push ourselves towards a set of opportunities we can truly be proud of. The Maldivian people want to be a society that excels in art, science, tourism and technology. We want to be a society of democratic values and transparency where each Maldivian citizen can trust, that the government will do right by them, when they are wronged, will protect them, when needed and always ensure the rights and privileges bestowed upon them through our Constitution.
There are few things right now in our society that are more important than our new, growing democratic government. The systems that we create right now, will ensure the rights of our people going forward, and can also serve as a roadmap for other Islamic nations moving toward a democratic process.
We also have an opportunity right now to fix human rights abuse issues, to ensure our government is representative of all citizens and not just those with the resources.
A large part of the opportunity created by our new democracy is to benefit from the experience in this room. The talent and partnership opportunities we have from the countries represented here tonight, who support us and are participating in this process with us, is critical to our long-term success.
We as a people benefit from a common understanding amongst our international partners that creating sustainable democratic system is not easy and that it takes a level of understanding and commitment that many places in the world have been unable to achieve.
As we move forward to the upcoming presidential elections, as President, all I want is a peaceful, democratic process. As a candidate, I would like to win but most important for me and my administration is to have an orderly, democratic process where everyone’s voices are heard.
I know a lot of you will be participating in that process in various ways and I urge you to make suggestions and comments as we get closer so that we can show the world what a democratic, peaceful election process in the Islamic world looks like.
Nothing would make me happier. Thank you again for your support and for coming tonight to celebrate this wonderful occasion.
Happy Independence Day.