Brutal Maldives Leader Clings to Long-Time Grip

Repression mixes with tourism as a new generation seeks power
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2007 9:37 PM CDT
Maldives President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom casts his vote during a referendum in Male, Maldives, Saturday, Aug. 18, 2007.   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Luxury resorts coexist in the Maldives with claims of a darker reality: Censorship, political repression, torture, and recent terrorist bombings. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the longest-serving leader in Asia, is reneging on a promise to step down and instead will run for a seventh term. But now his own supporters are turning on him and three key ministers have quit, the Independent reports.

One of those ministers, whom Gayoom once touted as evidence of his intent to hand the reins to a younger generation, will now run against him in 2008 elections. Gayoom has been in power for 29 years—he lists his age at 60 although he is believed to be 76—and has drawn international criticism for repressive measures against pro-democracy activists while letting Islamists operate freely.