INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Maldives: Three Parties Pre-Register

Published: Mon 6 Jun 2005 11:23 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS COLOMBO 001016
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
STATE FOR SA/INS
USPACOM FOR FPA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM MV
SUBJECT: MALDIVES: THREE PARTIES PRE-REGISTER
REF: COLOMBO 0997
1. (U) On June 5 the Home Ministry approved applications
from three groups to begin the work needed to register as
political parties. The three groups included the Dhivehi
Raiyithunge Party (Malidivian People's Party), founded by
President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom; the Dhivehi Raiyithunge
Democratic Party (Maldivian People's Democratic Party), also
known as the Maldivian Democratic Party, headed by erstwhile
detainee Mohamad Nasheed; and the Islamic Democratic Party,
headed by Umar Naseer. As the first step in the
pre-registration process, the proto-parties were required to
submit a petition with the signatures of at least 50
supporters. (Gayoom's party turned in over 200 signatures,
according to Presidential Spokesman Dr. Ahmed Shaheed,
including, not surprisingly, Cabinet ministers and many
members of the People's Majlis.) The groups have another 60
days in which to amass 3,000 additional signatures (or one
percent of the population each) and to set up respective
party constitutions before being registered as fully
functioning political parties. These requirements were
contained within the 62-page guidelines for party
registration issued by the Home Ministry shortly after the
People's Majlis endorsed the President's initiative to allow
political parties on June 2 (Reftel). Each of the three
applicants held public meetings in separate locations to
rally support on June 5. According to Shaheed, the President
addressed the maiden meeting of his Maldivian People's Party
himself, verbally extending "the hand of friendship" to all
parties. Shaheed added that the meeting, which took place in
a primary school, was attended by 9,000 supporters.
2. (SBU) Despite a somewhat rocky beginning that saw six of
its leaders detained for most of June 2--and a June 6 press
release warning of undue presidential influence in emerging
party politics--the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) is
optimistic for the future of multipartyism, Mohamad Naseer,
an MDP council member, told poloff in Colombo on June 6.
Naseer added that MDP Chairperson Nasheed was particularly
upbeat--especially since he said he was not mistreated during
his brief detention (Reftel). When asked if he feared, as
the MDP press release claimed, that Gayoom would use
government apparatus to enlist support for his party, Naseer,
who runs the opposition Minivan radio news, said he was
confident of the MDP's popularity. There will be occasional
bumps along the road as the President and his coterie become
accustomed to democracy and the concept of opposition, he
indicated, but on the whole he believes the trend is
positive.
3. (SBU) Comment: Arresting pro-reform activists on the
very day scheduled to announce a key reform like
multipartyism may seem a strange way to mark this important
occasion, but apparently there are no hard feelings on the
MDP side. We welcome these new developments with cautious
optimism, but note with some concern that the lengthy Home
Ministry guidelines bar parties from engaging in acts of
terrorism or acts intended to undermine the
constitution--charges that the government has leveled in the
past at the MDP and its members. We do not know Umar Naseer
or his new party, but understand that he is not/not connected
to "Sheikh" Fareed, the fiery mullah whose arrest helped
spark the civil unrest of last August.
LUNSTEAD
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