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World > Asia > Maldives > Government and Political Conditions (Notes)

Maldives - Government and Political Conditions (Notes)


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
A 1968 referendum approved the constitution, making Maldives a republic with executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. The constitution was amended in 1970, 1972, and 1975 and is again under revision.

Ibrahim Nasir, Prime Minister under the pre-1968 sultanate, became President and held office from 1968 to 1978. He was succeeded by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who was elected President in 1978 and reelected in 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, and again in October 2003. The president heads the executive branch and appoints the cabinet. Nominated to a 5-year term by a secret ballot of the Majlis (parliament), the president must be confirmed by a national referendum.

The unicameral Majlis is composed of 50 members serving 5-year terms. Two members from each atoll and Male' are elected directly by universal suffrage. Eight are appointed by the president. A special Majlis session began meeting in mid-2004 to review constitutional reform issues. Regularly scheduled Majlis elections took place in January 2005.

The Maldivian legal system--derived mainly from traditional Islamic law--is administered by secular officials, a chief justice, and lesser judges on each of the 19 atolls, who are appointed by the president and function under the Ministry of Justice. There is also an attorney general. Each inhabited island within an atoll has a chief who is responsible for law and order. Every atoll chief, appointed by the president, functions as a district officer in the British South Asian tradition.

On November 8, 1988, Sri Lankan Tamil mercenaries tried to overthrow the Maldivian Government. At President Gayoom's request, the Indian military suppressed the coup attempt within 24 hours. In September 2003, following the death of an inmate, a brief prison riot broke out on an island near the capital Male?. Three other inmates were killed during the incident. In response to the killings of the inmates, brief rioting took place on the streets of Male?. The government often prevents opposition rallies from taking place. Throughout 2006, the opposition faced restrictions on freedom of assembly, and the government continued to arrest opposition activists. The government also keeps a tight rein on expressions of Islamic extremism.

President Gayoom's commitment to introduce political reforms in June 2004 was widely welcomed. A human rights commission was established, and a special Majlis, or parliament, was convened to consider changes in the constitution, including the legalization of political parties. In August 2004, however, a demonstration in the capital turned violent and the government declared an emergency and arrested a large number said to be connected to the protest. Some of those arrested were prominent in the reform movement, including several members of the special Majlis. Most were released a few months later.

The Maldives were badly hit by the Asian tsunami of December 26, 2004, which killed 82 and caused substantial damage to Maldives tourism, housing, and fishing infrastructure. The U.S. provided $1.6 million in immediate relief assistance. Despite the disaster, the Government of the Maldives held parliamentary elections, originally scheduled for December 31, on January 22, 2005. Reform candidates performed strongly. Following the poll, President Gayoom announced plans to establish multiparty democracy within a year.

In June 2005, the members of the People?s Majlis unanimously voted to legally recognize political parties. In order of registration the parties are the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, the government?s Dhivehi Raiyyethunge Party, the Adalath (Justice) Party, and the Islamic Democratic Party. Although no elections have been held since the party system was implemented, members of parliament have declared their political affiliations.

In March 2006, the government introduced a 'Roadmap for Reform' and subsequently introduced several bills in parliament. However, as of January 2007, parliament had not yet enacted any of the reform legislation.

Principal Government Officials
President--Maumoon Abdul Gayoom
Minister of Defense and National Security--Ismail Shafeeu
Minister of Economic Development and Trade--Mohamed Jaleel
Minister of Finance and Treasury--Qasim Ibrahim
Minister of Home Affairs--Ahmed Thasmeen Ali
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Ahmed Shaheed


Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Climate - Current Time - Ranking Positions
Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.



Facts at a Glance
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Climate
Current Time
Ranking Positions


Notes and Commentary
People
Economy
Government and Political Conditions
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.





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