MonitorsPublished on Nov 27, 2008
The historic second round of the presidential elections ended in the Maldives on October 8 with the victory of the Maldivian Democratic Party Alliance leader Mohamed "Anni" Nasheed. Known for his progressive views, Anni defeated his rival, the longest serving ruler in Asia,
South Asia South Asia Weekly 43

< class="maroontitle">Anni ousts Gayoom as President

The historic second round of the presidential elections ended in the Maldives on October 8 with the victory of the Maldivian Democratic Party Alliance leader Mohamed “Anni” Nasheed. Known for his progressive views, Anni defeated his rival, the longest serving ruler in Asia, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom with a moderate 8% difference, getting 54% of the total votes polled as against the 46% voting share of Gayoom. Anni won primarily for two reasons--people’s desire for a change and the combined support of major opposition parties like Republican Party, Adhaalath and Maldivian National Congress. With Anni set to take over as the new President of the Maldives, he faces quite a few major challenges. Two of the immediate challenges are: To maintain a balance between his coalition partners, half of whom still has presidential ambitions, and to counter the persistent public skepticism about his ability, and experience, to govern.                    

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">LTTE hits again

Despite assurances given by the Sri Lankan armed forces to capture rebel strongholds by the end of this year, LTTE is making it harder, if the recent attacks by the Air Tigers on the capital city were any indication. Air Tigers, LTTE’s debilitated air wing,  hit  twin targeted Kelanitissa power station in Colombo and Thalladi military base in Mannar which also served as the main artillery and Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher launch pad of the Sri Lankan army. A day later, Sri Lankan Navy destroyed four LTTE boats which were prowling the waters to destroy ships carrying military supplies to the army. These incidents indicate the presence of LTTE’s command and control system, and the inability of Sri Lankan Air Force to stop these attacks on country’s vital installations.  The fact that LTTE, with two  Czech  Zlin 143l aircraft, could launch raids at two places within two hours, strengthens the belief that the battle for supremacy would be hard, and not yet over.              

< class="maroontitle">AISC formation draws criticism
The Maoist-led government's decision to form a five-member Army Integration Special Committee (AISC) unilaterally has drawn criticism from some major political parties and several other quarters. The political parties termed it as a deliberate attempt by the Maoists to violate the past agreements reached between the Seven-Party Alliance (SPA) constituents. The government formed the committee under the chairmanship of Deputy Prime Minister Bam Dev Gautam. Other members include Defence Minister, Ram Bahadur Thapa, Peace and Reconstruction Minister, Janardan Sharma, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) leader Mohammad Habiullah and one member will be inducted from the Nepali Congress.
The main opposition party in the Constituent Assembly, Nepal Congress, expressed dissatisfaction at the unilateral decision on such an important issue. Likewise,  Tarai-Madhes Loktantrik Party (TMLP) and Rastriya Janashakti Party (RJP), CPN-ML and few senior UML leaders accused the government of taking arbitrary decision without consulting other parties in the CA. Apparently, in the absence of the NC and other parties, the AISC would become a feeble institution, and will find it difficult to carry out the contentious issue of Army integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants. Primarily, it appears that the government is trying to impose its domination by forcing its decision on other parties.

< class="maroontitle">Election dilemma

The electoral procedures are turning out to be as contentious as the decision to hold the elections on December 18. The election commission, for instance, is not in a position to declare the poll schedule as it has not completed the delimitation of the electoral constituencies. Although Dr ATM Shamsul Huda, Chief Election Commissioner of Bangladesh, has assured that there would be no change in the polling date, but added that poll schedule can only be declared after the court orders. There are other unresolved issues which have raised uncertainties. The registrations of the political parties are yet to be completed. The commission is not sure about registering Islamic political parties as such entities are contrary to the provisions of country’s Constitution. But EC fears that if they were excluded they might create during the elections.

< class="maroontitle">$9 billion IMF loan

After much hand-wringing, Pakistan, three weeks from bankruptcy, has accepted the conditions set by International Monitory Fund (IMF) for a $9 billion bailout loan. Pakistan needs at least $4b to avoid defaulting on its foreign debts, as the United States, China and Saudi Arabia have refused to pitch in. The decision was taken at a meeting between IMF and Pakistan government officials in Dubai. Shaukat Tareen, advisor to the Pakistan Prime Minister on Finance, said the first payment --$3 billion to $4 billion—was imperative for the country’s economic security within a fortnight. IMF is expected to finalise the agreement by November 15, two days ahead of a meeting of the Friends of Pakistan—countries including the US, UK, China and Saudi Arabia—in Abu Dhabi.

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

      • Anjali Sharma                 – Sri Lanka, Maldives
      • Joyeeta Bhattacharjee – Bangladesh
      • Paul Soren                       – Nepal, Bhutan
      • Kaustav Chakrabarti     – Pakistan
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