Democratic hiccups in Malé

A referendum win of the presidential over the parliamentary system of government in the Maldives is being seen by President Gayoom as a personal success. But he may not be around long to taste the fruits of this contested victory.

On 18 August, Maldivians over the age of 18, amounting to a voter population of 194,000, went to the polls in a public referendum to decide on the future system of the country's government. With re-polling due to irregularities in two districts in Addu Atoll three days later, a preliminary count at deadline stood at 93,581 for the presidential system to 57,158 for the parliamentary system.

The ballot box where President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom cast his vote, T14, had 52 percent in favour of a parliamentary system. But of 29 ballot boxes in Malé, where the most vocal opposition to President Gayoom exists, 18 ballot boxes were reported to be weighted towards a presidential system. Addu Atoll, the second-largest urban centre in the Maldives and a stronghold of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), was also reported to favour a presidential system. To say the least, this was a result that has confounded many.

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Himal Southasian
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