Maldives heads for democracy amid political intrigue

August 06, 2008 (LBO) – Maldives is set to ratify a new constitution this week which will bring multi-party democracy the Indian Ocean tourist paradise, but the archipelago’s politics are already tainted with allegations of bribery amid fears of a constitutional crisis. Under that, an Elections Commission must be formed within 30 days, a Supreme Court within 45 days, a Prosecutor General appointed within 30 days.

“People (parliamentarians) are being offered either up to a million dollars in cash or credit, to block any nominations,” claimed a highly placed government source.

The opposition is fragmented. The newly formed Republican Party and the Peoples Alliance Party each control five to six seats each.

The once powerful Maldivian Democracy Party, however, only has five members, having been split after an internal primary to select a presidential candidate.

Other parties, each have between one to three seats between themselves.

Under the new constitution, the atoll nation of 369,000 Sunni Muslims must hold its first multi-party presidential election before October 10.

Gayoom’s sixth term, ends on November 10.

The latest twist comes as four ministers quit government on Wednesday, a day before the new constitution is ratified.