Faris: Small changes not enough to reform Maldives

Ahmed Faris Maumoon takes part in 2023 presidential debate on September 2, 2023.

Ahmed Faris Maumoon, who is contesting the upcoming presidential election independently, says that small changes aren’t enough to reform the Maldives, adding that it requires making revolutionary changes.

Before the conclusion of Saturday’s presidential debate, Faris summarized his vision.

“Maldives cannot be reformed by making small changes, small reforms, giving small pieces for free or by adding free things,” he said.

Faris said that policies must be formulated based on consultations and debate.

He said he would formulate such a plan within the first two years of his rule.

He also stressed the need to reform state institutions.

 He said he would change the composition of parliament, and free the independent institutions.

During the debate, when asked about the arrest of former presidents, Faris said there are huge influences in the criminal justice system in Maldives, which has undermined people's confidence in the justice system.

With that, he said, issues related to the people are more important to the debate than such talk.

"However, what am I going to say? We are coming to debate in this presidential election, not about our politicians," he said.

Faris said that although there are public concerns, such issues should not be given priority.

Replying to a question on foreign relations and national security, Faris said that if a foreign army is stationed in Maldives, even if it is not for the purpose of war, it cannot be stationed without the approval of parliament.

If there are such people, his administration will tell them to leave.

"If anyone is asked to leave and does not leave, it is an act of war. If such a thing has happened in history, our leaders should report it to the UN Security Council," he said.

He said not taking up the issue was a weakness of leadership.

Faris said in foreign relations, Maldives should look beyond the India-China fight, to the world’s north and south.

He said the country’s foreign policy should not be centered solely on a specific foreign country, and that Maldives must strengthen relations with all countries, except for Israel.

“But it is not good for us Maldivians to carry foreign flags,” he said.