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Commonwealth Welcomes Political Space In Maldives

Commonwealth Welcomes Opening up of Political Space in Maldives

Secretary-General Don McKinnon has welcomed the recent decision by the Parliament of Maldives, the People's Majlis, to allow political parties.

Welcoming this significant and positive development on 21 June 2005, Mr McKinnon said: "I commend President Gayoom and the People's Majlis on their decision to allow political parties in Maldives. Freedom of association is fundamental to a democratic society. I hope this historic development will contribute positively to the important work on a new Constitution for Maldives and I look forward to further planned reforms. I encourage the newly registered political parties to play an active and responsible role in supporting and informing the Special Majlis in taking the democratic reform process forward."

The Secretary-General's Special Envoy, Tan Sri Musa Hitam, former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, will visit Maldives on 23-24 June 2005. He will meet President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and other key figures in Maldives to extend Commonwealth support to the democratic reform process. The Special Envoy is expected to meet the Attorney-General, Speakers of the People's Majlis and the Special Majlis and the leadership of the five political parties registered so far.

The Commonwealth Secretariat is also providing a number of experts to Maldives to assist the democratic reform process in line with Commonwealth principles -- in particular, its support for democracy. Currently, one Commonwealth expert is assisting Maldives in the drafting of a Political Parties Bill. Another is advising the Government on ways of enhancing the independence of the judiciary. Other experts will be advising and assisting the Government of Maldives on other aspects of its reform programme in the coming months.

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