Here's news about Maldives, the tiny South Asian island that we rarely get to write about. Known for its pristine beaches and turquoise water, the country has been ruled by President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's since 1978. But many are calling for change.
Maldives held its first multiparty election ever on Oct. 7, which would now decide the fate of Gayoom. The result is expected within a day and if no one gains 50 percent of the votes, a run-off election will be held within 10 days, reports CNN.
Having already served a seventh term, Gayoom and his supporters are hopeful of an eighth term.
"We're very confident it's going to be a first-round victory," said Gayoom's spokesman, Mohamed Shareef. "He has taken the country from near abject poverty, and during his presidency, we have achieved a lot economically, socially, and more recently, politically."
However, Gayoom's opponents share a contrasting view. One of his strongest opponents, Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), condemns Gayoom's rule and blames him for the gap between the rich and poor.
But even after 30 years, Asia's longest ruling leader is still going strong.
From the BBC:
The president argues that after 30 years of his leadership, the Maldives has become South Asia's richest economy, at the forefront of the international battle against climate change and on the verge of becoming a fully fledged democracy.
"If you want a leader who will protect these freedoms, our religion and our culture, then vote for me," he told supporters, promising "five more dynamic years".
Gayoom had ratified the country's constitution in August that brought key democratic changes after years of autocratic rule, the multiparty election being one of them.
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