Saturday, October 17, 2009

Maldives Ministers Dive Into Cabinet Meeting

Ministers in the Maldives are taking part in their first underwater cabinet meeting to draw attention to global warming.

The government has arranged a horseshoe-shaped table at the bottom of the sea and they will communicate using white boards and hand signals.

The event will be "chaired" by President Mohamed Nasheed and there will be a total of 13 officials meeting under water.

Expert divers from the Maldivian military will be on hand to ensure the politicians are safe.

The ministers have been in training over the past two months and say they feel confident about the meeting's venue.

"The ministers are fairly comfortable in the water particularly given that they've just started diving," said Zoona Naseem of the Divers Association of Maldives.

Of the 14-member cabinet, three ministers will not take part in the dive because two of them have medical conditions while the third is away in Europe.

The politicians will sign their wet suits which will be auctioned on to raise money for coral reef protection in the archipelago nation.

The Maldives, to the south west of Sri Lanka, has become a vocal campaigner in the battle to halt rising sea levels.

The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned in 2007 that a rise in sea levels of between seven and 24 inches by 2100 would be enough to make the country virtually uninhabitable.

More than 80% of the country's land, composed of coral islands scattered some 530 miles across the equator, is less than 3.3ft above sea level.


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