Monday, June 4, 2007

EU questions democtratic reforms in Maldives

South Asia's most exotic holiday destination, the Maldives, must urgently open the way to sweeping democratic reforms according to the European Union.

The EU has said a failure by Male to open up its political system to opposition groups would lead to violence on the idyllic islands.

Political parties were allowed in the Maldives for the first time in June 2005, in line with reforms announced by President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who was originally elected in 1978 and is currently Asia's longest-serving president.

But the Muslim islands have yet to hold multi-party elections and Gayoom's opponents have accused him of clinging to power.

The EU has also called for a "proper investigation" into the recent mysterious death of an opposition activist, Hussein Salah.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, which is leading a campaign against Gayoom, has accused police of killing him.

The EU is Maldives' largest trading partner, buying fisheries products and sending the largest number of tourists to the archipelago.

Source: Radio Australia

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