In a meeting with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in April, the Maldivian Foreign Minister, Abdulla Shahid, stated that an Interim Election Commission would be created within 30 days of the ratification of the new Constitution. He underlined that the deliberations of the Special Majlis (Constitutional Assembly) were nearly complete. Foreign Minister Shahid told us that the Commission would be responsible for all elections-related matters, and that all registered political parties would be able to nominate Commissioners.
I refer the hon. Member to the answer my hon. Friend the Minister for the Middle East (Dr. Howells) gave to the hon. Member for West Suffolk (Mr. Spring) on 27 February, Official Report, column 1705W.
Free, fair and credible elections are a crucial element of democratic reform in the Maldives. My noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, the Right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, emphasised this point to Dr. Mohamad Asim, the Maldivian high commissioner in March. He also pointed out that the freedom of politicians and political parties to campaign and debate freely was a cornerstone of democracy.