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Maldivian Democratic Party meets with US-based National Democratic Institute for International Affairs in Male'
12 Oct 2004
Members of the Maldivian Democratic Party council met with officials from the National Democratic Institute For International Affairs (NDI) on Sunday 10 October in Male'. The NDI is closely allied with the US Democratic party and its chairperson is the ex-Secretaty of State Madeleine Albright.
The MDP representatives made five proposals:
1. Release all detainees held in connection with the peaceful demonstration held on 12 and 13 August 2004 in Republican Square.
The MDP told the NDI that 'the reform process itself was in detention'.
2. Grant registration to political parties through a presidential decree.
Most of the MDP members said that Maumoon Gayyoom should make an executive decree to allow political parties, and they pointed out that Maldives under Gayyoom is run by decree, not by laws formulated in the Majlis. 'Even the Monetary Authority functions under presidential decree,' they said. 'so it would be easy for the president to allow political parties if he wanted to.'
3. Postpone the coming Majlis (parliamentary) elections.
4. Reconvene the Constitutional (Special) Majlis to proceed with constitutional amendments and complete their work within 30 days.
One NDI member thought 30 days was not enough time, but the MDP representatives argued that Gayyoom had had 27 years to make these reforms and giving him more time to avoid implementing them was exactly what he was looking for.
5. Dissolve the Majlis and hold free and fair elections.
The NDI officials then asked the MDP the following questions:
1. If parties were allowed in the Maldives, what parties would emerge apart from the MDP?
The MDP people replied that apart from a Gayyoom clique party and MDP, there would be an Islamic party and perhaps a neutral Green party.
2. What percentage of votes would the Islamists get in a free election?
The MDP estimated an Islamic party's support at between five and twenty percent. One MDP representative believed that before the formation of an Islamic party there would be internal wrangling among the Islamists over whether it was 'halal' to form political parties.
Regarding the possible Gayyoom party, the NDI was told that it would be one party with hardline and more liberal wings, or it would split into a 'brothers of Gayyoom' party and an 'in-laws of Gayyoom' party.
3. What kind of guidelines should a political parties' law have?
The MDP replied that Islamic fundamentalism would be present in any party system set up in Maldives. There was some disagreement over whether an Islamic party was needed since nearly all Maldivians are Muslims, but since the constitution was formally based on Islam, and this was not likely to change, then it was difficult to justify a secular party system.
4. Is the MDP willing to compromise and work with the government?
The MDP explained that while the government was Maumoon Gayyoom, the MDP would have to negotiate with him. It was suggested that when political parties are allowed to function properly in the Majlis, it would be easy for political parties to negotiate with the president.
© Dhivehi Observer 2004