Maldives > Maldives: Democracy kidnapped
  • Raj Gotla

    I have lived in the Maldives for 3 years during the Gayoom era. Gayoom’s oligarchy was characterized by stability and order almost to the extent of regimentation. I have no direct knowledge as to how the civic freedoms released during the brief period of Mohamed Nasheed’s government translated in to societal gains, but I have read that the social ills like drug addiction, abuse of women and children that were under the surface earlier erupted out, even corruption and concentration of control on Maldive’s economic assets especially in the tourism sector were loosened. Nasheed was in addition a visibly egalitarian and liberal intellectual as compared to an elusive, enigmatic and autocratic Gayoom.
    All democracies are to some degree oligarchies. In a small country like the Maldives it is difficult to conceptualize the successful maturation of a full democracy, especially as chunky tourism assets are in control of a few who will not hesitate to fight hard to retain their grip. It is also hard to see if any transfer and eventual management of those assets under an egalitarian ownership can ever be possible.
    My heart is with the Maldivians who are some of the most loving and friendly people on earth. They certainly deserve the benignity and egalitarianism of the Nasheed model if it can in some way be combined with the stability of the Gayoom era sans the oppression and the concentration of arbitrary power.

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