Maldives to hold first democratic general election

May 9th, 2009 - 1:59 pm ICT by ANI  

Male, May 9 (ANI): The people of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean will vote on Saturday in the country’s first ever fully democratic parliamentary election.

The election will be a key test not only for President Mohamed Nasheed, but also for Britain’s Conservative party, which has coached his candidates in the art of contesting polls that are free and fair.

Nasheed, a former political prisoner of conscience who was once granted political asylum by Britain, scored a surprise victory last October after islanders turned against his predecessor, Maumoon Adbul Gayoom, overwhelmingly voting him out in a presidential poll that the hardline ruler accepted.

According to The Telegraph, the election today will be closely observed in London. The Conservatives have over the last five years sent regular delegations to support Nasheed and his Maldivian Democratic Party.

Earlier this year Richard Spring, the vice chairman of the party, led a team to the island and last month MDP activists were trained by Sheila Gunn, John Major’s former press spokesman.

The election will be critical to Nasheed’s success in being able to deliver on a range of international and domestic commitments, including his desire to use British scientists to study the impacts of climate change.

He wants to develop the Maldives as a global “laboratory” for studying the effects of sea level rise as nowhere on the islands is more than a metre and a half above the waves.

Nasheed’s MDP will be contesting 74 of the 77 seats in the People’s Majlis or parliament. His main opponent will be the former ruling Dhivelhi Rahyithunge Party led by Gayoom. Nasheed has predicted that his MDP will win a majority. (ANI)

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