New Maldives president to be sworn in

MALE, November 11, 2008 (AFP) – A former political prisoner who unseated Asia’s longest-serving leader as president of the Maldives will be sworn into office Tuesday, taking charge of a nation he fears could soon disappear.

Mohamed “Anni” Nasheed, 41, the winner of the the Indian Ocean atoll nation’s first multi-party presidential elections, has come up with a novel plan to save islanders from global warming.

A one metre (3.3 feet) rise in sea levels would almost totally submerge the country’s 1,192 coral islands scattered off the southern tip of India. According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a rise of at least 18 centimetres (7.2 inches) is likely by the end of the century.

“I don’t want Maldivians to end up as environmental refugees in some camp,” Nasheed told reporters after his October 28 election win.

“We are talking about taking insurance — if the islands are sinking we must find highland some place close by. We should do that before we sink.”

Nasheed told Britain’s Guardian newspaper that he had already broached the subject of finding a new homeland for Maldivians with several countries and found them to be “receptive”.

India and Sri Lanka are targets bec