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Maldives Government Appreciates EU Declaration

Maldives Government Appreciates EU Declaration; Announces Work Underway on Drafting Political Parties Bill

Male’, February 8, 2005 (Tuesday) - The Government of the Maldives appreciates the Presidency of the European Union's welcoming the holding of the parliamentary elections on 22 January 2005, and recognition that the election proceeded “in a generally peaceful and constructive atmosphere according to the reports of independent observers”.

The success of the elections is a clear demonstration of widespread popular support for the reform process that President Gayoom has initiated, and further provides an opportunity to accelerate the reform programme.

The President has stated publicly his hope that the Special Majlis, which has the sole authority and mandate to revise the Constitution, will complete its work within a year.

Commenting on the EU declaration, Chief Government Spokesman Ahmed Shaheed said:

"The Government welcomes the EU's interest in our country's reform and modernization programme. We hope that the EU will maintain its interest and will continue to support efforts to reform our political system through peaceful and constitutional means."

"By proclaiming an all-embracing agenda for democracy last June, President Gayoom has opened a bold new chapter in the political development of the country.”

The current Constitution came into force in 1998. Numerous reforms have already been implemented in recent years, including the enactment of a new Family Law, and the creation of a Human Rights Commission.

Much work is also being done towards reform in the criminal justice system and strengthening of human rights. The Penal Code is presently being re-drafted, along with the Criminal Procedures Code, the Police Act, Prisons and Parole Act and other relevant legislation.

Electoral reform is another major project being undertaken with the assistance of the Commonwealth. Mr. John Turner (current Chair of the United Kingdom Association of Elections Administrators) will submit his findings and recommendations to the Government in the next few days. The project will finalise the new Elections Bill and the Political Parties Bill within the year.

Since 1994, elections in the Maldives have been monitored by independent observers from South Asia, and they were joined in the recent elections by a Commonwealth Expert Team.


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