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Maldives Removes Gender Bar To Presidential Office

The President welcomes the removal of the gender bar in seeking presidential office under the new Constitution and the amendment to provide equal opportunities for presidential hopefuls of all political parties

Male', January 15th, 2008 (Tuesday) - The President has welcomed two important developments at today's session of the People's Special Majlis to finalise the Chapter on the President of the Republic.

First, members voted overwhelmingly to defeat an amendment proposed by MDP MP Hussain Ibrahim to maintain the gender bar in seeking presidential office under the new Constitution. As early as June 2004, the President had proposed to the Special Majlis the removal of gender bias in seeking presidential office.

The second key development was the revision, through a successful amendment proposed by a DRP MP, of certain Articles that clearly discriminated against a particular individual seeking presidential office, and thereby facilitating candidates of all registered political parties to seek presidential office in the upcoming multiparty presidential election.

The President highlighted that the two developments were "major steps" in realising the "aspirations of the people to usher in a modern liberal democracy in the Maldives". While congratulating the MPs who defeated the amendment on keeping the gender bar and those who voted in favour of the amendment facilitating equal opportunities for presidential hopefuls of all parties, the President noted that the actions of some opposition elements in the aftermath of the session were regrettable.

Commenting on today's developments, the Presidential Spokesperson Mr. Mohamed Hussain Shareef said:

"The orchestrated attempts to misinform the people and international stakeholders of the outcome of today's developments bring into serious question the commitment of these people to democratic values. These actions were taken in desperation by the enemies of democracy. The people have a right to know the truth, and the Government will fulfil its responsibility to brief all stakeholders on the progress attained in the Special Majlis."

"Of particular satisfaction was the assurance that the current gender bar would be removed, in accordance to the President's 31-point proposal on constitution amendment of 2004."

"The DRP parliamentary group must be congratulated on its initiative to overturn the discriminatory elements in the draft on the Chapter on the President of the Republic that were designed to sabotage the presidential election bid of a particular candidate.

The Government is firmly committed to fulfilling its promise of a free and fair presidential election. However, it must be noted that the shameful actions of certain opposition elements to remove President Gayoom from the race could have seriously jeopardized the march towards democracy."

ENDS

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