Ministers lose in Maldives elections

Agence France Presse

Male, January 27:

Three key ministers were defeated in the Maldivian elections, official results showed today as pro-democracy activists said President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has sent out signals for a reconciliation. The ministers of fisheries, labour and tourism were defeated in Saturday’s voting, according to a final list of results published by the election commission. “We are getting signals from the president for working together,” a top member of the reformist Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) told AFP.

He said the government had sent out feelers through diplomatic channels to arrange a closed door meeting for a rapprochement between the two sides. “This is a very positive development and I think we can work together.”

The MDP, which is not officially recognised because no political parties are allowed under the 1998 constitution, said it had won 18 of the 42 parliamentary seats up for grabs. However, Gayoom’s spokesman Ahmed Rasheed said the dissidents had won only 12 seats. Verifying claims is difficult because all candidates must offer themselves as independents and shifting loyalties make it difficult to pin down actual support.

MDP spokesman Mohamed Latheef said candidates endorsed by his party had garnered impressive support.