The Maldives experienced a slow but secure economic
development in 96, with industrial production increasing by
10%. Education's share of the state budget reached 9.2% in
the same year.
In May 97, ASEAN met the countries of Male where they
adopted poverty eradication initiatives and where they
decided to protect the environment, following studies to
confirm the rise of the sea around the Maldives. At the end
of the year, the president briefed delegates from the United
Nations and the British state on these concerns. In
November, a new constitution was adopted that came into
force on January 1, 1998. It predicts the president elected
by parliamentary elections. According to
among the 5 candidates, Parliament in September decided to
elect Gayoom for a 5th term. This decision was confirmed in
November by a referendum of 90% of voters.
In its 1997 annual report, Amnesty International
criticized the fact that in the Maldives there are at least
a dozen political prisoners arrested for manifesting their
opposition to the Gayoom government. Many of them have been
incarcerated without judgment or official charges. Following
the November 1999 parliamentary elections, Amnesty accused
the government of preventing 3 of the elected candidates
from taking their seats in parliament. Acc. According to the
human rights organization, the candidates of the government
have been accused of "promoting dissatisfaction", which can
cost up to 15 years of exclusion from political life. The
government had prevented the parties from running the
election campaign for the candidates, thus forcing everyone
to stand as independent candidates.
Throughout the 1990s, Maldives was the target of
international criticism of the systematic human rights
violations. In the country, homosexuality between men is
punishable by up to life imprisonment. Journalists Without
Borders has criticized the imprisonment of journalists who
wrote critically about the government. Amnesty International
has called on the government to change its legislation, to
improve freedom of expression and to respect the right of
In September 2003, Male was the scene of a demonstration
that ended up costing 3 lives, 25 wounded and 100 arrested.
The background was a prison riot that broke out due to
torture and lack of lawyers. Among the prisoners were 3
parliamentarians who wanted to run for presidential election
as well as a number of members of the banned Maldives
Democratic Party. The October election was won by Gagoom,
who got 90.3% of the vote. He was the only candidate.
In June 2004, Gayoom promised to make changes to the
Constitution, limiting the length of time the same person
can occupy the presidential post, and further permitting the
formation of political parties.
After a demonstration in August demanding democracy in
the country and the release of the 5000 political prisoners,
the government declared the country in a state of emergency.
Government spokesman Ahmed Shahid stated that this step was
taken because the demonstration was developing violently.
Police reported that over 50 protesters were arrested. It
was not until October that the government reinstated some of
the rights that had been revoked. the state of emergency.
This includes that no person could be detained for more than
24 hours for no reason. Supporters of democracy declared
that the reinstated rights were merely mascot, and should
simply divert international criticism of the conditions in
The December tsunami that hit Southeast Asia also reached
the Maldives, costing over 80 lives and a dozen missing.
Large parts of Male were put under water. The damage was
extensive as most of the country's territory is less than 1
m above sea level.
In June 2005, Parliament voted unanimously to introduce a
multi-party system in the country. In August, the leader of
the Maldives Democracy Party, Mohammed Nasheed, was arrested
during a demonstration in Male. During the arrest,
authorities claimed that they merely detained him for his
own safety and to disperse a demonstration of about 600
participants. But two weeks after his arrest, he continued
to be imprisoned with 100 other participants and was now
charged with terrorism, as he had stated during a public
speech in July that President Gayoom would be "overthrown
with violence" if he did not post election or resign.
According to the government spokesman, the charges against
Nasheed were "linked to the threats to the state and
terrorism". He can be sentenced from 2 years in prison to
life for. Democratic Party spokesman Mohamed Lathif, who
lives in exile in Sri Lanka, declared that Gayoom's
political survival is obviously under threat, and he
therefore wants to "eradicate any opposition".
Amnesty International designates the Maldives as one of
the countries that uses hardware and software as a means of
censoring and restricting access to the Internet. According
to the human rights organization, many multinational
companies participate in government censorship efforts, as
it is a requirement in many countries for companies to
operate in these.