Maldives president pledges to work with Islamists

COLOMBO, July 7, 2013 (AFP) – Maldivian President Mohamed Waheed pledged Sunday to work with the main Islamic party ahead of upcoming elections, and rejected opposition fears it would lead to increased radicalisation in the luxury tourist destination. Waheed described most Adhaalath members as moderate, while some had “extreme views”.

“I don’t worry too much about this (radicalisation). There will always be a few extremists everywhere, even in Europe and the America.”

He said there had been no attacks blamed on Islamic extremists recently, but the opposition accused them of destroying the entire collection of 12th century Buddhist artefacts at the Male museum during political unrest last year.

The Maldives, a string of Indian Ocean coral islands populated by 330,000 Sunni Muslims, has been troubled by political unrest in recent years. Waheed is standing for re-election at the September 7 poll as part of a coalition of four-parties, including the Adhaalath Party, which once called for a ban on men and women dancing in public.

He said excluding Adhaalath from mainstream politics risked marginalising the party, which would have a “negative long-term effect” on the tropical resort nation.

“We believe we can work with them (Adhaal