Paradise Regained?

It's not often that a strongman voluntarily loosens his grip on government, but in what one diplomat called an "astonishing" announcement last week, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom of the Maldives appeared to do exactly that. No longer would he run the executive, courts, police, parliament, army and media single-handedly, Gayoom proposed at a constitutional forum he convened in the capital, Malé. Instead, there would be a Western-style separation of powers, with a Prime Minister, a Supreme Court and a strengthened legislature. Political parties would be allowed to flourish, and human rights would be safeguarded.

The unprecedented move follows...

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