The democratisation of the Maldives through the burgeoning multi-party system cannot be reversed, President Mohamed Nasheed asserted in his Independence Day address.
“No government can last in this country anymore except through clearly stated policies, pledges made to the people and [based on] the extent that the pledges are fulfilled,” Nasheed said. “No greater independence nor a happier state than this could be seen from an independent country. We have definitely changed to that state.”
The type of political system found in a country, said Nasheed, was the “true foundation” for sustaining independence.
Although multi-party constitutional democracy in the Maldives was in its infancy, Nasheed continued, the hopes fostered through the new system promised “a much brighter future.”
Maldivians have proven that “anyone could aspire to become President,” he added.
After emerging as a nascent democracy post-2008, President Nasheed said that the Maldives was punching above its weight in the international arena.
“Especially in the area of human rights and environmental advocacy, the Maldives is by God’s will among the front rank,” he said. “It is unlikely that we will see a better, smoother transition to democracy than the example shown by Maldivians.”
President Nasheed praised and congratulated Maldivians for being forerunners to the Arab revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt as well as democratic change in other parts of the world.
Meanwhile former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom issued a statement on Independence Day warning of “foreign influences” that could compromise economic independence, sovereignty and “independence of thought.”
Gayoom argued that while “enslavement of Maldivians” by foreign armies was unlikely given the vast changes that have taken place in the world, the undue influence of powerful external forces was a challenge to small states like the Maldives.
“In light of this reality, we have to renew efforts to strengthen and fortify the Maldives’ political and economic independence,” he said.
In his message to the nation, the former President said that preparations to celebrate 50 years of independence in 2015 as colourfully and joyfully as possible should begin now.