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Maldives president signs new constitution increasing judicial independence

[JURIST] Maldives President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom [official websites] on Thursday signed into law [press release] a new constitution [PDF text] for the country, providing for multi-party elections, an independent judiciary, and a more powerful legislature. The constitution also provides a number of enumerated rights for citizens and establishes several special commissions on issues including human rights and corruption. The document was drafted by the People’s Special Majlis [official website], which was convened for the purpose in 2004 and was dissolved by the President [press release] after Thursday's signing ceremony. The country's first competitive presidential elections since 1978 will be held in October and Gayoom has announced he will run for a seventh term. Reuters has more. Miadhu News has local coverage.

The Maldives constitution was last modified [PDF text] in 1998, and Thursday's changes came in response to international criticism [AI report, PDF] of 2003 government actions against protesters of prison conditions [AI reports] in the country. The government asserts that it has already instituted a number of other reforms [government report, PDF] in recent years.

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