Election fever grips Maldives; MDP ahead in polls, Gayoom placed third; TI gives an corruption index of 208 to Maldives
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  • Election fever was gripping Maldives with the Election Commission indicating that even the Maldivian diaspora would be voting in the upcoming elections. It noted that around 2,757 overseas Maldivians had signed up to vote. These included 820 in Malaysia, 1008 in Sri Lanka, 838 in India and 91 in Singapore1.

    The Maldivian Democratic Party has meanwhile charged that politically motivated efforts were going on to discredit its campaign2. Government sources also criticised independent presidential candidate Dr. Hassan Sayeed for crediting himself for the advances made in the arena of press freedom3. Information Minister Mohammad Nasheed on his part stated that the bill on media and press freedom would soon be debated in the parliament.

    The Social Liberal Party’s presidential candidate Ibrahim Ismail enunciated his party’s policy on fisheries. He asserted that protecting his country’s territorial waters would be one of his top priorities if elected. Ismail also announced that no import duty would be levied on fisheries equipment4. President Gayoom’s Dhivehi Raiyyithunge Party (DRP) has proposed that the state fisheries company, MIFCO, would be transformed into a public limited company. Gayoom also emphasized that in the newly reorganized MIFCO, “fishing families would be playing a larger role to ensure equitable distribution of income5.”

    Opinion polls meanwhile indicated that the Maldivian Democratic Party was emerging as the most popular party with Mohamed Nasheed (Anni) winning 44 per cent of the votes in a poll conducted by DhiFM, a radio channel, followed by Dr. Saeed6. President received 21 per cent of total votes. In a poll taken by another radio channel, MDP again secured 71 percent of total votes. The second place was secured by Dr. Saeed again7.

    In other developments, Maldives was ranked below Sri Lanka, India, China, Malaysia, and Singapore in the latest Corruption Perception Index released by Transparency International (TI). Maldives had an index of 2.8, with TI noting that a score below 5 was an indicator of a serious corruption problem8.