Maldives opposition push for interim govt. ahead of polls

COLOMBO December 11, 2007 (LBO) — Five Maldivian opposition parties Tuesday urged President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom to put in place an interim government ahead of the archipelago’s first multi-party polls next year, officials said.

“We are urging the international community to support us, to support our cause for democratic reforms,” former Maldivian foreign minister Ahmed Shaheed and spokesman for the five-party opposition alliance told reporters here.

The newly formed alliance, which includes main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), the religious Adhaalath Party, the Islamic Democratic Party (IDP), Social Liberal Party and the New Maldives Group, plan to field a common candidate to contest in next year’s presidential poll.

They accuse Gayoom, Asia’s longest serving ruler since 1978, of being a dictator and leading the country to anarchy and mismanaging the economy of just under a billion dollars.

“Traditionally elections are rigged in the Maldives. This must stop,” said Umar Naseer of IDP.

“The crime rate is rising, the jails are full of people, inflation is rising. We call on the international community to put maximum pressure on Gayoom, to accept our proposals,” Nasser said in the