Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Democracy wins

As a new day breaks, bathing the nation's capital in glorious sunshine, Maldivians are also waking up to the prospect of their first new president in 30 years.

At 7.00am, all the ballot boxes had been counted and Anni had a 54.21 percent lead over Gayoom, who got 45.79 percent of the votes in a final round of elections which has had a voter turnout of 86.58 percent.

Minivannews.com is reporting that Anni and Gayoom are having early morning talks about the handover, which suggests things are not going to be volatile like people feared. But it is difficult to imagine that a dictator with Gayoom's history, does not have a final trick up his sleeve. Many thought a military coup was in the offing, but it hasn't happened yet.

Although Anni is right to work with Gayoom to ensure a smooth transition, he must not accept any conditions from the fallen dictator. The new government has more important things on its hand, but it is likely that families who suffered under the dictator will want to hold him accountable, before the country can really move on.

Anni is also inheriting monumental problems from Gayoom, including high levels of corruption, drugs, youth and gang warfare, and a fractured society that may take some time to adapt to democracy. Then there's the question of what to do with religious hardliners who want to establish a clerical body, as in Iran, to oversee Islam in the Maldives and to control everything else in the process.

By voting for Anni, Maldivians have voted for democracy and human rights, and in the hope of a better quality of life.

But we must never again hold back criticism and lavish praise on a leader so that they forget that they are servants of the people. Many who today are with Anni know this all too well because they made the same mistake with Gayoom.

Dissent must never die.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hopefully it never will.