The first session of the Maldivian Parliament after a new President was sworn in began on Monday amid some slogan shouting and minor disruptions.

Members of the Maldivian Democratic Party — to which the former President, Mohamed Nasheed, belongs — tried to prevent President Waheed Hasan Manik from speaking, but without success. The MDP is the single largest party in the People's Majlis.

With one constitutional requirement out of the way, Maldives now faces tougher questions. These, Dr. Waheed said, included fixing a date for elections, taking action on a tottering economy and transacting important parliamentary business, which has been in limbo since the change at the top.

Elections

“According to the Constitution, the earliest date for a presidential election is July 2013. If a presidential election is required at an earlier date, changes need to be made to the Constitution. I will do everything in my power to bring together all the political leaders, to hold discussions on the matter,” said Dr. Waheed in his address on Monday.

He also focussed on the destruction of property in MDP-dominated Addu City and Huvadhoo Atoll. “The cost of destruction to Island Councils, buildings under the care of these councils, homes of citizens, and police stations is currently estimated at more than 180 million rufiyaa. The loss of archived records of the people of Addu maintained by the institutions of the judiciary in Addu City are immeasurable,” he said.

On the economy, he did a lot of plain talking. “The Maldives is currently in a state of economic vulnerability. State expenditure greatly exceeds state income. The current deficit stands at 3.086 billion rufiyaa…At the end of 2011 the state owes 23.2 billion rufiyaa to foreign and local parties.”

Estimates for 2012 indicate that the debt component of the current account in the country's Balance of Payments will increase by 11 per cent as compared to 2011. With respect to GDP, debt of the Maldivian current account will go up to 28 per cent (compared to six per cent in 2011).

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