Triumph against all odds for Democracy, once uncorked, hard to rebottle

By Alec Hogg

Democracy is like the mythical genie in Aladdin’s lamp. Once uncorked, it is extremely difficult to rebottle.

The world got example of this yesterday from the Maldives, the nation spanning over 1,000 Indian Ocean islands that lie 700km south of the Indian sub-continent. Maldives, whose land area covers just 300 sq km and is home to 430,000 people, is officially Asia’s 50th largest country.

Over the weekend, the Maldive Islanders voted their China-friendly authoritarian leader out of office. President Abdulla Yameen, whose half brother had run the nation as a dictatorship for 30 years, ensured ahead of Sunday’s election his most prominent opponents were either jailed or in exile. As insurance, he also showered voters with pre-election gifts.

Despite this, as The Economist magazine commented yesterday, “to general astonishment Mr Yameen was declared to have lost with only 42% of the vote (and) conceded without protest.” The country’s first democratically elected president, exiled after being ousted by Yameen in murky circumstances, tweeted “Democracy is a historical inevitability.” Quite.