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Maldives poll results a historic milestone: US

By P. Karunakharan, IANS,

Colombo : Welcoming the election of opposition candidate Mohamed Nasheed as the new president of the Maldives, the US Thursday said it “marked a historic milestone in the transition to political pluralism” for the South Asian country.

Mohamed “Anni” Nasheed was Wednesday announced the winner of the first multi-party democratic elections in the Maldives, defeating his longtime rival and 30-year incumbent President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

“The United States congratulates the people of the Maldives on the successful completion of their first multi-party elections. The results mark a historic milestone in the transition to political pluralism for the Maldives,” the US embassy here quoted State Department spokesman Sean McCormack as saying in a statement Thursday.

“This election is the culmination of decades of effort, including four years of work, to rewrite the Maldives constitution, introduce a multi-party system, and conduct free and fair elections,” the embassy statement said. The US ‘commends’ former president Gayoom for bringing greater prosperity and democracy to the people of the Maldives, it added.

“We congratulate President-elect Mohamed Nasheed on his victory and look forward to working together to maintain the strong friendship and cooperation between the Maldives and the United States,” the State Department spokesman has been quoted as saying.

Former political prisoner Nasheed, 41, will inherit a presidency with far fewer powers than Gayoom enjoyed, which is the direct result of his years of agitation for changes in the constitution.

According to Maldivian election laws, he must be inaugurated and assume office by Nov 11. That will formally end 30 years of rule by Gayoom, who prevented political parties till 2005.