New Political Era for the Maldives

The first multi-party elections held in the Maldives have brought to power a onetime political prisoner, Mohammed Nasheed, and caused the exit of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the man who put him in jail. It is a remarkable transition. In the 30 years since Gayoom, 71, assumed power over the island nation of 385,000 people, there had been no challenge to his authority. It was an offense, in fact, to aspire for the top office, punishable by exile to some uninhabited dot among the sprinkling of 1,190 coral islets in the Arabian Sea south of India. In the Maldives’ last six elections, Gayoom had stood alone in yes-no referendums. He claimed that he had been re-elected by more than 90 percent of them each time.

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