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Cablegate: Maldives: Proposed Letter From Secretary To

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS COLOMBO 002038

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM MV
SUBJECT: MALDIVES: PROPOSED LETTER FROM SECRETARY TO
PRESIDENT GAYOOM ON DEMOCRATIC REFORMS

REF: A. COLOMBO 1680
B. COLOMBO 1953
C. COLOMBO 2025

1. (U) This is an action request. Please see para 2.

2. (SBU) Maldives has made some progress in implementing
democratic reforms, but significant problems, including
limitations on the opposition and on pro-opposition media, as
detailed in Reftels B and C, remain. The Maldives is a
moderate, pro-Western Muslim nation which has proven
receptive to international pressure in the past. The
Maldives is now at a crossroads in its reform process. As
the political reform process has developed over the past two
years, we have used the relationship of friendship and trust
we have developed between the US and Maldives to nudge the
process along. President Gayoom values our input and support
because the US is perceived as a friend which wants to assist
Maldives in its difficult progress. In light of our
priorities outlined in Reftel A, we believe that this is an
opportune time for the Secretary to send a letter to
President Gayoom that commends the progress achieved so far
and underscores our concern that the process continue to move
forward. Draft text follows below.

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3. (SBU) Begin draft text:

Dear President Gayoom:

I would like to congratulate you on the progress the
Government of Republic of Maldives has made so far in the
democratic reform process. The conduct of elections in
January despite the tragedy of the December 2005 tsunami, the
registration of political parties in June, the marked
improvement in prison conditions over the past year, and
efforts to broaden freedom of the press are all very
encouraging signs.

I understand that both the Dhivehi Rai'yyithunge Party and
the Maldivian Democratic Party will hold their first party
congresses soon. I applaud you for encouraging these
peaceful political activities, which build democratic
capacity and permit Maldivans to engage in political
processes. I also note with interest the formation of a
Judicial Services Commission, aimed at promoting judicial
independence from the executive. I look forward to seeing
evidence of this independence in the work of Commission in
the months ahead.

While your government has taken some critical steps forward,
the need for greater progress in other crucial areas
persists. My Government remains concerned about the harsh
sentence given to activist Jennifer Latheef and the judicial
proceedings against Maldivian Democratic Party Chairperson
Mohamed Nasheed. These actions have fueled perceptions that
the judicial system is being used to penalize political
dissent.

I know that your Government is attempting to address
inadequacies in your current legal system by drafting a new
penal code, as well as by revising criminal and civil
procedural codes. The United States Government commends
these efforts. Next steps, such as bringing the penal code
before the People's Majlis and implementing the recommended
procedures as soon as possible, will be crucial in dispelling
the perception that the existing criminal code may be
susceptible to political manipulation.

With all of the changes under way, Maldives is at a vital
turning point. There are great responsibilities upon you and
upon the political opposition. If your country continues
forward on the path to progress you initiated, Maldives can
stand as an encouraging example to other nations seeking to
democratize, and you will have given all Maldivians a
tremendous legacy for the future. We await further
democratic developments in Maldives with great interest.

End draft text.

LUNSTEAD

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