Maldives’ poll panel wants to learn from Indian counterpart

New Delhi, Jan 25 (IANS) The Maldives’ newly-independent Elections Commission wants to learn ‘a lot’ from its Indian counterpart, one of its commissioners said Monday.

‘We are the first ever independent election commission in the history of Maldives. We are only two months old,’ Ibrahim Waheed, one of the five election commissioners, told IANS on the sidelines of the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Election Commission of India (ECI).

‘India is world’s biggest democracy. India has voting practice of last 60 years, which is a record in the region. We want to learn a lot from India,’ he said.

The island nation’s parliament appointed the first independent election commission in November 2009, changing a long time practice where the poll panel members had been nominated by the president.

Multi-party, multi-candidate elections were held in Maldives October 2008 putting an end to 30-year presidential rule by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Recalling the Maldives historic ties with India, he said: ‘India is always there to support us.’

‘India and Maldives have very very special relations,’ said Ali Mohamed Manik, another of the election commissioners.

Waheed said some people in Maldives still believe that election commission is under the government, adding ‘we will have to change such thoughts’.

He said their views would be presented at the international symposium ‘Sharing the Best Electoral Practices’, organised by the ECI as part of its to diamond jubilee functions, here Jan 27 to exchange experience and expertise in election management.

Many foreign delegations have requested bilateral meetings with the Election Commission.

Chief of Nigeria’s independent National Electoral Commission Maurice Iwu said: ‘We look forward to work with India’s commission.’

Iwu told IANS that the Nigerian poll panel had been in collaboration with Indian Election Commission since 1998.

More than 30 heads of electoral bodies from across the world, a majority of them from Commonwealth countries attended the inaugural function of the ECI’s diamond jubilee celebrations, inaugurated by President Pratibha Patil.

Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, head of missions of various countries and leaders from the entire political spectrum of the country were also present.

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