Maldives praises Rajapaksa`s role in ending pol stand-off

Maldives on Friday praised the role of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa for helping end a stand-off between the government and the opposition-led parliament that had forced the Cabinet to resigned en masse on June 29.

Last Updated: Jul 09, 2010, 20:41 PM IST

Colombo: Maldives on Friday praised the role
of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa for helping end a
stand-off between the government and the opposition-led
parliament that had forced the Cabinet to resigned en masse on
June 29.

The ministers were reappointed as Rajapaksa undertook
a one-day goodwill visit to Maldives on July 7 to help mediate
in the political crisis.
"We thank Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and
also the role played by diplomats from other countries in
overcoming the stalemate. A way was found to commence
negotiations on the political crisis," Maldivian Foreign
Minister Ahmed Shaheed told reporters here.

A high-level Maldivian delegation comprising cabinet
ministers and other top officials is in Sri Lanka to assure
the large Maldives population of stability in the country,
which is undergoing a difficult transition to democracy after
decades of autocratic rule.

President Mohamed Nasheed 13-member cabinet quit last
week saying the parliament was blocking all its efforts to
govern the nation of 330,000 Sunni Muslims.

The cabinet ministers submitted their resignation late
last month protesting against constant intervention by some
Opposition members in Parliament that had made their
functioning difficult.

During his visit, Rajapaksa met his counterpart
Nasheed, Opposition leader Ahamed Thasmeen Ali, the Chief
Justice, the Speaker of the Majilis and Former President
Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Besides holding meetings with leaders of various
political parties, Rajapaksa also met some of the leading
members of the business community in the country.
"President Rajapaksa engaged in this initiative as a
friend and a neighbour of the Maldives who offered his
assistance, in accordance with the wishes of the Government
and the Opposition of the Maldives in initiating a dialogue to
resolve the current crisis," a joint statement by the Maldives
and Sri Lankan government said.

The government and the opposition agreed, in the
presence of President Rajapaksa, to constitute a committee of
six members of the parliament to address the political problem
in Maldives, which is 800 kilometres southwest of Sri Lanka in
the Indian Ocean.

The panel would commence and carry forward a dialogue
addressing such pressing issues as the appointment of Cabinet
ministers and the smooth functioning of the legislative
process.

Under the Maldives` system of government, the
president handpicks his cabinet and each name must be approved
by parliament, which can later seek to remove a minister
through a no-confidence vote.

The cabinet had resigned to pre-empt a move by the
opposition in the parliament to move a no-confidence motion
against the education minister.

Nasheed was elected in October 2008 for a five-year
term while the parliament was elected in May 2009, also for a
five-year term.

The government in Maldives has charged some "fringe"
Opposition members of trying disrupt the work of the
government as they were opposed to a large-scale privatization
measures proposed by the President.

The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party has only 32
seats in the country`s 77-member Parliament. The opposition
coalition led by DRP has 36 seats. Others are independent
members.

In reply to a query on foreign intervention to resolve
its domestic crisis, Shaheed said his country’s democracy was
at a nascent stage after nearly 30 years of dictatorship.

"We resolve the domestic problems ourselves but take
suggestions from friendly nations in this regard, he said.

PTI