Friday, August 3, 2007

Maldives President aims to retire in 2010-spokesman

Maldives President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Asia's longest-serving ruler, plans to stand for reelection at the island's first multi-party elections due next year and then aims to retire early in 2010, his spokesman said.

The Indian Ocean island cluster is due to a hold a public referendum on August 18 on whether to adopt a Westminster-style parliamentary system or U.S. style presidential system as part of a raft of democratising reforms.

Gayoom has been in power since 1978, and his autocratic rule has been likened by critics to a sultanate of old.

'He has announced that he will be running again for office, whether it is under a presidential or parliamentary system,' Chief Government Spokesman Mohamed Shareef told Reuters by telephone from the island capital of Male.

'He feels he needs a couple more years to finish what he started and then plans to retire,' he added. 'He is hoping by 2010 his job will be done.'

The Maldives only legalized the existence of opposition parties in 2005 in a land famed for its luxury resorts and world-class scuba diving. A new constitution for the chain of 1,200 mostly uninhabited islands 500 miles (800 km) off the toe of India is still being drafted.

Gayoom pledged wide-ranging democratic reforms in late 2004 to revamp the power structure in the nation of 300,000 mostly Sunni Muslims, responding to harsh criticism of his government's rights record.

Gayoom's critics accuse him of cracking down on dissenting views to stifle opposition parties and hold onto power and maintain control of lucrative tourism resorts, which rake in millions of tourist dollars each year.



Anonymous said...

It's simply not true!

Obo Fili said...

my salutes to the grea8 man. may allah put him in heaven when he is done in maldives. Obo fili