Maldives adopts a new constitution

Aug 8, 2008 (LBO) – Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom ratified a new constitution that ushers in key reforms and allows multi-party elections in the Indian Ocean republic.

“Today we have witnessed a special moment where (the) Maldives has embraced a constitution that will usher in a liberal and modern democracy into the country, and take Maldives to the rank of established democracies in the world,” Gayoom said in a nationwide address on Thursday.

Developed over the past four years, the statute enshrines for the first time, independent bodies for human rights, judiciary, police, defence, elections, civil service, prosecutor general and corruption investigations.

“One of the fundamental aspects in a democracy is the right to free expression. And it is the test of freedom of expression that decides that level of democratic achievements in a society,” Gayoom said.

“This constitution, engraves freedom of expression and freedom of press as a fundamental right,” Gayoom said in his 20-minutes address.

The new constitution cuts executive powers vested under the president by as much as 50 percent and strengthens parliament, legal reforms minis