Maldives is a model for democracy in Islamic world: Nasheed

December 23rd, 2008 - 11:08 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 23 (IANS) Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed Tuesday said his country was a model for bringing democracy into an Islamic nation. The 41-year-old Nasheed Tuesday began his first-ever foreign visit since becoming the president of the Indian Ocean nation of over 200 major islands, defeating Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had been in office for 30 years. He arrived here Tuesday afternoon on a three-day state visit.

“We are the only 100 percent Muslim country able to come up with a home-grown” democracy, Nasheed said while addressing business chambers here.

“If it can happen in the Maldives, there is no reason why it cannot take place in other Islamic countries. We want to be a model for other Islamic nations,” he added.

The Maldives president, who was earlier arrested several times for his leading role in the opposition democratic movement, outlined his economic policy - an open invitation to private sectors in most infrastructure sectors.

“It’s not the government’s function to do business. We want you to do business and to give us the tax money,” Nasheed said.

He said his government wanted to “relinquish state ownerships of white elephants”, referring to various state-owned companies that have monopoly in key sectors like electricity.

Inviting investment from Indian companies, he said: “We have no interest in holding onto state enterprises, as we have seen in the past that state enterprises have been used for control of freedom.”

“Our role is limited to finding an asset, parcel it up and see who wants to have a share in it,” Nasheed added.

The president listed the sectors of energy, electricity, ports, harbour, sanitation, transport, water as being fully open for private investment.

Nasheed thanked various sections of Indian society, including the industry and NGOs, for supporting the democratic movement in his country.

He is slated to meet top Indian leaders, including the president, the prime Minister and the vice-president Wednesday.

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