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Maldives hails European Union call to end violence

Maldives has welcomed the European Union's call for an end to civilian unrest and violence and resumption of cross-party talks.

india Updated: Dec 06, 2006 14:19 IST

The Maldives has welcomed the European Union's call for an end to civil unrest and violence in the Indian Ocean atoll nation and resumption of cross-party talks.

"The government is very grateful for the continuing support of the international community in encouraging peaceful and constructive engagement around the democratic reform process," a statement from the president's office said.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has launched a movement to oust President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Foreign Minister Ahmed Shaheed thanked EU for its "balanced statement" on the violent anti-government protests and underlined the importance of global support for the reforms agenda of Gayoom.

Shaheed also asked MDP to shed its "negative attitude" and join negotiations with the government on a future democratic structure.

The MPD had planned a massive protest on Friday with a view to overthrow the Gayoom government, the authorities said, but it passed off peacefully amid a low turnout.

Said Shaheed: "The people have spoken and they have firmly opposed violence and direct action as a means of pursuing political change.

"We encourage the voices of moderation in the opposition to demonstrate a genuine commitment to reform and democracy rather than follow the foolhardy footsteps of militants who would hijack the democratisation process for selfish personal agendas."

According to plans unveiled by Gayoom three years ago, the Maldives will have multi-party elections in 2008.

First Published: Nov 11, 2006 16:33 IST