Former Prisoner Ousts Maldives' Brutal President

Torture victim wins Indian Ocean islands' first democratic vote
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2008 9:42 AM CDT
Supporters of Maldivian Democratic Party celebrate as the results show a clear win for their presidential candidate, Mohamed Nasheed, today.   (AP Photo)
camera-icon View 5 more images

(Newser) – A former political prisoner won a decisive victory yesterday in the Maldives' first democratic election, the Telegraph reports, ousting Asia's longest-serving leader. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who came to power in 1978, conceded defeat to former journalist Mohamed Nasheed—a man he jailed 13 times and who walks with a limp from multiple bouts of torture.

The Indian Ocean islands’ reputation as a tourist paradise disguises a darker reality: The poverty-wracked archipelago has endured three decades of political repression, state violence, and increasing Islamic fundamentalism. Nasheed, whom his supporters hail as a local Nelson Mandela, promised not to take revenge on his former jailer, and pledged to hold unprecedented parliamentary elections in February.