Thousands Pay Final Respects To Former President Ibrahim Nasir

Thousands Pay Final Respects To Former President Ibrahim Nasir

Thousands of people queued outside the presidential palace in Malé on Sunday to pay their final respects to the late former Maldives President Ibrahim Nasir after his body was flown to Maldives.

Nasir, who died in a hospital in Singapore on Saturday evening at the age of 82, had not returned to the country since he left in 1978 due to persecution by ex-President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Queues of men, women and children snaked along the roads in Male to see Nasir, the first president of the second republic of Maldives, for the final time. Sunday was made a national holiday to celebrate the event.

Nasir, who is succeeded by three children, died in Singapore Mount Elizabeth Hospital on Saturday after having suffered from kidney failure in the intensive care unit for some time.

With the consent of President Nasheed and Nasir’s family, Nasir’s body was brought to Male International Airport on a Sri Lankan Airline flight. Hundreds of people congregated at the airport.

His body was brought for a ceremony held at Republican Square before being taken to Theemuge, the former president’s palace, for public viewing.

Thousands of people proceeded to pay their final respects. Among them were the ex-President Gayoom, who lost power on 11 November, and President Mohamed Nasheed (Anni).

The funeral prayer and burial was arranged to have after Isha prayer, but later decided to postpone till Fajr prayer due to the long queues.

Nasir’s body was placed in the hall of Theemuge covered with an orange cloth, with only his face exposed.

Speaking to the media today at the President’s Office, Nasheed said Nasir had rendered numerous services to the Maldives.

Without forgiveness and reconciliation, he added, it would be impossible for us to achieve the democracy that we hope for.

Among those who attended the ceremony, forty-year old salesman Ali Mohamed said he agreed that Nasir should have been given a state funeral.

Moosa Ali, 49, a fish seller, said Nasir was the one who had introduced mechanised fishing vessels and many other services to Maldives.

“I don’t know how Gayoom would have dealt with Nasir’s body if he had been in power,” he said. “We should give all the respect to Nasir,” he added.

Nasir served as country's Prime Minister under Sultan Muhammad Fareed Didi from 1957 to 1968 and succeeded him to become the first President of the Second Republic from 1968 to 1978.

Nasir is recognized for bringing independence on 1965, when the country been a British protectorate since 1887.

His work included bringing Maldives to the United Nations, modernising the fisheries industry with mechanized vessels, and starting Maldives’ lucrative tourism industry.

He was credited with many other improvements, such as introducing an English-based modern curriculum and building the first international airport in the Maldives.

He also abolished “Vaaru”, a tax on the people living on islands outside Malé.

But he has also been criticised for human rights abuses and the use of authoritarian methods against opponents, such as a crackdown on a 1959 breakaway republic in the south of the country.

As prime minister in 1962, Nasir sent a militia from the capital, Malé, to suppress islanders of Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo after they declared a breakaway state in the southern atolls.

Reports suggest an estimated two or three hundred islanders were allegedly brought to Male, jailed and tortured.

Islanders of Thinadhoo on Sunday were protesting over the decision to fly the Maldives flag at half-mast, angry over his treatment of their island.

But Abdullah Abdul Rahmaan, 70, from Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo, believes Nasir sent a militia to Thinadhoo for their good. “He was a good person who wanted to make this nation unified,” he said.

In 1981, Nasir was sentenced by President Gayoom in absentia for alleged corruption and planning a coup, but he was later pardoned.

President Nasir’s family was with him when he passed away on Saturday.

The funeral prayer for the late President Nasir will be held after the Fajr prayers, at Masjid-ul Sultan Mohammed Thakurufaanu-al Auzam. He will be buried at the Friday Mosque.

Source: Minivan News

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