Maldives. According to
CountryAAH, about 61 percent of the participants said in a
referendum in August that the Maldives should have a
political system with a strong US model presidential power.
The alternative was a parliamentary system based on the
British model. President Maumun Abdul Gayum, who has been
ruling since 1978 and quite reluctantly agreed to the
introduction of democracy, was the main proponent of a
strong presidential office.
Shortly after the referendum, Foreign Minister Ahmed
Shahid resigned in protest against what he described as
conservative forces' delay in democratization. Before him,
the Justice Minister and the Chancellor of Justice had also
resigned after fierce criticism of the President.
In September, twelve foreign tourists - eight Chinese,
two Japanese and two British - were injured in a blast
attack in a park in the capital Male. Militant Islamists
were blamed and police arrested nearly 50 people after
clashes with alleged extremists on the island of Himandhoo.
A series of laws were then quickly introduced in an attempt
to curb the emergence of radical Islamism. Among other
things, women are forbidden to wear a full veil and a
moderate interpretation of Islam should be disseminated in
schools. Words and behaviors considered to advocate
extremism are prohibited. State television is not allowed to
hire women who wear Muslim headscarves.