Today the Maldives stands at the cross roads of democracy, where Maldivians are taking their first steps to establish a liberal democracy. Many challenges lie ahead for the newly elected government in fulfilling this promise. Good governance remains the core of the government’s policies for democratization. The government has embarked on establishing a local governance system with the aim of strengthening local democracy and addressing the economic and social development issues arising from a highly centralized government. The Government aims to achieve this through the implementation of a two‐fold Program of Regionalization and Decentralization. This paper discusses the various reform measures undertaken by government to pave the road towards democracy.
The first step taken was to form provinces, out of adjacent atolls, to achieve effective planning, coordination, and management and thus, reducing social, economic and developmental disparities between the island capital, Male’, and the rest of the country. The Regionalization and Decentralization Program was established to facilitate people-oriented development by empowering citizens and promoting democracy. Some of its objectives include establishing local institutions, bringing government closer to people, and creating a vibrant civil society.
The report posits that financial and technical support is still needed to bring the program to fruition, however. Designed to take place over two phases, regionalization and decentralization will first involve establishing provincial offices, local councils, and initiating programs to address capacity building and advocacy needs. With a government approach of solving problems as they arise, the report warrants a sense of optimism about Maldive’s governance future.