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Seven arrested during MDP protest in Maldives

The Oppn parties say before the actual work of amending the Constitution can begin, Gayoom's appointees must be removed.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2006 16:22 IST

At least seven demonstrating members of the Maldivian Democratic Party Council were arrested by the police on Monday.

The protest, which began at 9am, was called to show support for MPs inside the Special Majlis who were due to debate the removal of Gayoom's unelected appointees from parliament, the Minivan News reported on Monday.

Twenty-nine members, appointed by the president and with no democratic mandate, sit in the Special Majlis and are accused by the MDP of blocking progress on democratic reform.

The opposition parties say that before the actual work of amending the Constitution can begin, these members must be removed.

President Gayoom's party, the DRP, recently petitioned the speaker of the Special Majlis to cancel a planned debate on the future of the unelected members.

Gayoom is fighting hard to keep his appointees, who cement his control over the constitutional assembly.

Speaking to Minivan News on Sunday morning, MDP Secretary-General Hamid Abdul Gafoor said, "as expected, no quorum was reached as the MPs who signed the petition didn't turn-up."

In the past weeks, DRP members have been avoiding sessions of the Special Majlis to prevent a quorum being reached, resulting in the automatic cancellation of the session.

The MDP accuses the MPs of cowardice for blocking debate on the issue.

"We organised our small protest to get our point across. The Star Force police were in riot gear and took away five of our activists and were quite aggressive," Hamid was quoted as saying to Minivan News.

First Published: Feb 20, 2006 16:22 IST