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Maldives: Politics and Government

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 9 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the discussions with President Gayoom of the Maldives during his recent visit to the UK covered (a) charges brought against members of the opposition and (b) the use of state resources and media for President Gayoom’s party’s campaign for the referendum. (154550)

My noble Friend the Minister with responsibility for Africa, Asia and the UN, the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, met President Gayoom at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on 20 July. They discussed the economic and political situation in Maldives, but did not cover the specific issues raised by the hon. Member. Lord Malloch-Brown issued a statement following the meeting calling for free and fair elections and successful conduct of the referendum which is available on the FCO website at:

http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1007029391629&a=KArticle&aid=1184751833263&year=2007&month=2007-07-01

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of progress made by the Special Majlis towards amending the new constitution of the Maldives. (154551)

Since the election of the Special Majlis (Constituent Assembly), progress towards the new constitution has been slow. But there have been advances, in particular in relation to the legalisation of political parties, a more tolerant approach to press freedom and the release from detention of many political prisoners.

The referendum in Maldives on 18 August has given the Special Majlis a mandate to develop a constitution based on a presidential system of government. We urge all political parties to work together to ensure that this is done in a transparent manner and that it results in a constitution which delivers a liberal multi-party democracy.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the progress made by the Government of the Maldives in reforming the judiciary since the visit of UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers in February 2007. (154552)

Judicial reform is an important part of the reform process in Maldives. The Maldivian Government has stated publicly that they are drafting secondary legislation on the regulation of the judicial sector. This will need to be compatible with new draft constitutional provisions. We understand that the UN Development Programme is funding an international consultant whose role is to provide technical assistance to the Maldivian Government for this purpose.