No Indian push on unconstitutional polls: Maldivian president (Lead)

May 14th, 2012 - 10:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) Assuring the world that his nation was committed to democracy, Maldivian President Mohamed Waheed, who is on his first official visit to India, said Monday New Delhi was not pushing the Indian Ocean nation to do anything “unconstitutional” on holding presidential elections.

Waheed, who was propelled to the Maldivian presidency under extraordinary circumstances after incumbent Mohamed Nasheed resigned Feb 7 following a police rebellion, said he was personally committed to holding early elections, but political consensus was eluding the coalition government.

“I can assure you that Maldives is committed to democracy. There is no turning back,” Waheed said at a press conference on the third day of his five-day visit to India after holding talks with the top Indian political leadership on the troubled situation in his country.

“We are not willing for an autocratic and dictatorial system in Maldives. We came back to Maldives and are working there because we want a better future for our children. I assure you there is no threat to democracy in Maldives,” he said, to queries about the future of democracy in his country in the wake of recent developments and the political unrest.

Waheed is in India within three weeks of Nasheed visiting here to drum up support for his call for early presidential polls.

The president also threw up his hands with regard to holding elections in the Maldives ahead of the promised July 2013 deadline, saying there were hurdles of political consensus and constitutional provisions, considering that the Maldives is an executive presidency like in the US and not a parliamentary democracy with a prime minister at the helm like in India.

“I am all for early, free and fair elections as early as the constitution may allow. But, except for Nasheed’s party, all other parties in the country are against elections before July 2013. Also, the constitution has to be amended for holding early elections and for that we need two-thirds majority. This is unlikely to happen now,” Waheed said.

Asked for India’s response to the situation in the Maldives during his talks with the leadership here, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Waheed said: “India is not pushing us to do anything that is against our constitution.”

Waheed was the vice president in Nasheed’s government that lasted for three years since the first multi-party democratic polls in 2008, which led to the ouster of the dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoon from power.

“The 2008 polls…this is not the end of our democracy. It is the arrival of a new era in our democracy. The whole question is about democracy and not about Nasheed. It is a democracy in a hundred percent Muslim nation. It is a unique story,” Waheed said.

Describing his nation as “a young and a very new” democracy, the visiting president said they had set up new institutions and these had problems, as their functioning was yet to be refined. “It will take time to do,” he added.

He also denied being under the influence of Gayoom, noting that the former president’s party was part of his coalition. “I have supported a national unity government and I have always worked along with all the parties in my government,” he said.

On the fall-out with Nasheed after being part of his government for three years, Waheed said his predecessor had failed to uphold the political agreements he had entered to with other parties, including his, and was trying to appoint the Maldivian Democratic Party’s representatives in all key positions.

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