News24

Maldives democracy 'honeymoon' near end

2013-02-07 10:03

Colombo - The president of the Maldives said the islands' "honeymoon with democracy" was coming to an end as the tourist paradise marked its first anniversary on Thursday of the toppling of his predecessor.

Mohamed Waheed, aged 60, who came to power after Mohamed Nasheed, the nation's first democratically-elected leader resigned following street protests and a police mutiny, said the Maldives had done better than other emerging democracies.

"Democracy is in its infancy [in the Maldives]," Waheed said in an e-mail interview with AFP. "Despite a few hiccups, I am very optimistic about our democratic future.

"As our honeymoon with democracy nears its end... I am convinced that a new model for true democracy will glow from these islands."

The Maldives was known as a popular honeymoon destination, but political unrest has dented its image in the past year.

Inclusiveness

Waheed said he was likely to offer himself as a candidate at the 7 September elections that were announced on Wednesday.

His former boss Nasheed faces several court cases that could disqualify him. Nasheed says the cases are politically motivated and designed to exclude him from the elections.

Waheed said his full year in office was marked by "inclusiveness" and rejected opposition claims that he was stifling individual freedoms and had become a hostage of Islamic extremists in the nation of 330 000 Sunni Muslims.

"In view of the current achievements and the general reading I get from the public, I have not ruled out the option of candidature," Waheed said. "However, much work has still to be done during the next few months."

A Commonwealth-supervised investigation rejected Nasheed's claim of a coup and upheld that Waheed, the then deputy to Nasheed, became president in line with the constitution.