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Maldivian president wins referendum on political system
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07:54, August 21, 2007

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The Maldivian government said Monday that President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has won the referendum on political system as more voters chose the United States-style presidential form over the Britain-style parliamentary system.

Chief government spokesman Mohamed Hussain Shareef told Xinhua by telephone from Maldivian capital Male that preliminary results show that 93,042 voters or 62 percent of the total chose the presidential form while 57,109 voters or 38 percent chose the parliamentary system.

Shareef said about 77 percent of the 194,000 voters cast their votes on Saturday to decide the country's political system in the future.

He said all but two ballot boxes out of the 433 have been counted, adding that vote casting will be held for one of the disputed ballot boxes from Hithadhoo island and a recount is to be made on the second disputed ballot box from the island.

"As only about 2,000 votes are involved in the two disputed ballot boxes, the recasting and recount will not change the final result," Shareef said.

He said that the People's Special Majlis, the interim constitutional assembly, will meet this week to discuss the amendment of the constitution so that the constitution can be amended by Nov. 30.

Analysts say the referendum is a trial of strength between Gayoom's party, the DRP (Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party) and the main opposition MDP (Maldivian Democratic Party) led by its chairman Mohamed Nasheed and its president Mohamed Munavaar.

The DRP favors the presidential form, saying it guarantees maximum stability in a small country like Maldives and that the form makes it possible for the people to elect directly their leader in the elections.

The party also said it could provide improved living standards and service to the people in this chain of 1,192 islands strung across the equator.

On the other hand, the MDP said a parliamentary system ensures maximum participation of the people in the overall administration of the government and the affairs of the country.

It said the parliamentary system will ensure a fair distribution of wealth of the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago which enjoys South Asia's highest per capita income of more than 2,300 dollars.

Home to around 300,000 Sunni Muslims, the Maldives has an appointed body the Majlis which can comment on the legislation.

Political parties were allowed in the Maldives for the first time in June 2005 as part of the reforms sponsored by President Gayoom who was first elected in 1978 and is currently the longest- serving head of state in Asia.

Source: Xinhua

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