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Govt calls Oppn party a band of agitators

Govt labelled the Maldivian Democratic Party a band of agitators and militants after they objected to a proposed new constitution.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2006 14:36 IST

The Maldives government labelled the country's main opposition party a band of agitators and militants on Thursday after they objected to a proposed new constitution during a meeting with a special Commonwealth envoy.

Commonwealth envoy Tan Sri Musa Hitam held talks this week with members of political parties to seek their opinion on the planned new constitution, which would allow sweeping political reforms including allowing direct elections and introduce an independent judiciary.

The Commonwealth—an organisation of Britain and its former colonies that includes the Maldives—will help draft the constitution.

But the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party told the envoy during a meeting Wednesday in the Maldivian capital, Male, that it has no faith in the proposed changes and again accused the government of persecuting its members and supporters.

MDP chairman Mohamed Nasheed accused the government of trying to deceive the international community through the "stage-managed show," which he said would not introduce a true democracy in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has governed the Maldives since 1978 with tight control.

He promised political reforms in 2004 in response to international pressure sparked by anti-government riots and allegations of torture of political prisoners, but the reforms have been slow.

"The MDP has shown itself time and time again to be nothing more than a ragbag band of agitators and militants," government's chief spokesman, Mohamed Hussain Shareef said in a statement.

The Maldives is a Muslim nation of about 300,000 people on 1,192 coral islands.

First Published: Feb 09, 2006 14:05 IST