A Regional workshop promoting dialogue between government and opposition begins in Maldives on Monday.
The 3-day workshop jointly organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, which is the first workshop of its kind in Maldives brings together members of parliament and other senior politicians from ruling and opposition parties from Commonwealth countries in Asia.
A broad range of issues will be discussed during the next three days reflecting the fact that government and opposition parties are the fundamental building blocks of a strong and effective parliament.
Speaking at the opening ceremony Commonwealth Deputy Secretary General Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba said Government and opposition have to see themselves as partners.
“Government and opposition parties therefore need to find ways of working constructively together. It is important to remember that today’s government may be tomorrow’s opposition. Political parties represented in parliament need to see themselves as partners in the development of the democratic process” said Ms. Mmasekgoa.
The Speaker of the Maldives People’s Majlis (Parliament) Abdulla Shahid, who also spoke at the opening of the workshop, called on the government and opposition to rise above their differences to offer hope to citizens.
“We need to live up to their expectations and aspirations. Our role is to carve out a better life for our people through the laws we design. Our duty is to hold the government accountable by upholding the Constitution. In short, our role as the legislature is to enforce democracy, not fail it,” said Mr Shahid.
He stated that democracy is in a state of infancy in Maldives and acknowledged that it is the responsibility of Members of Parliament to consolidate young democratic institutions to serve the interests of the people by paving the way for social justice and equity.
Mr Shahid said Maldives faces challenges in consolidating democracy and expressed appreciation for the Commonwealth’s support in promoting democracy, good governance and institution building.
Representatives of Maldives governing MDP and main opposition parties are attending the workshop.
According to Commonwealth Secretariat the workshop is also attended by selected resource persons, civil society representatives and observers from regional and international partner organisations of the Commonwealth.