President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (born 1937) was one of Asia’s longest serving rulers. He was president of the Maldives from 1978 until 2008, when he was finally elected out of office after a series of protests gained traction in the mid 2000s. He won his sixth five-year term in a one candidate referendum in October, 2003 in which he claimed about 90 percent of the vote.

Maumoon Abdul Gayoom retained power for three decades, ruled in an authoritarian manner and survived an assassination attempt and tree coup attempts. In 1988, Indian troops landed in the Maldives to foil one of coup attempts. Gayoom was elected to six successive terms by single-party referendums. Following political demonstrations in the capital Male in August 2003, he and his government pledged to embark upon a process of liberalization and democratic reforms, including a more representative political system and expanded political freedoms. Political parties were legalized in 2005. [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2020]

Gayoom first took office on November 11, 1978 and reelected to his sixth term in 2003. He was preceded byIbrahim Nasir and Succeeded by Mohamed Nasheed. He was born in Malé on December 29, 1937 was an independent politician until 2005 (at that time political parties were not allowed). He was the leader of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party from 2005 to 2011 and the leader of the Progressive Party of Maldives from 2011 to 2017. He was arrested in February 2018, for allegedly conspiring to overthrow the government with his brother in law.

Gayoom was an Islamic scholar before he became a politician. After serving as Minister of Transport, he was nominated as President by the Majlis (Parliament) of the Maldives and succeeded Ibrahim Nasir in 1978. After being defeated in the October 2008 presidential he continued to serve as leader of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party in opposition until January 2010, when he retired from active politics.

Timeline of the Gayoom Era

1978 — Maumoon Abdul Gayoom becomes president after Ibriham Nasir retires. Gayoom is elected president. [Source: BBC, September 24, 2018]
1981 — Maldives Monetary Authority is established and Malé International Airport is opened.
1982 — Maldives rejoins Commonwealth.
1988 — Coup attempt involving Sri Lankan mercenaries foiled with the help of Indian commandos.
1980s — Development of tourist industry fuels economic growth.
1998. Gayoom is re-elected as president for the fifth consecutive term.
1999 November — Parliamentary elections take place, with more than 120 independent candidates contesting 40 seats.
2002 September — President Gayoom warns low-lying islands at greater risk than ever before, and calls on international community to take urgent action to prevent global environmental catastrophe.

Protests Against Gayoom Start: 2003 September — Unprecedented anti-government riots break out in Male, sparked by deaths of four prison inmates.
2003 October — Mr Gayoom re-elected for unprecedented sixth term in presidential referendum, winning more than 90 percent of the vote.
2004 June — President Gayoom promises constitutional changes to limit presidential term and allow formation of political parties.
2004 August — State of emergency imposed after a pro-democracy demonstration turns violent. Almost 100 people are jailed.
2004 December — Scores of people are killed and many islands suffer severe damage when a tsunami generated by a powerful undersea earthquake off the Indonesian coast hits the Maldives. The government says the disaster set development work back by 20 years.
2005 June — Parliament votes unanimously to allow multi-party politics.
2005 August — Opposition party leader Mohamed Nasheed is charged with terrorism and sedition.

Roadmap for Democracy: 2006 March — President Gayoom unveils a "roadmap" for democratic reforms, which he says will enhance multi-party politics.
2006 August — President Gayoom pardons senior opposition figure Jennifer Latheef, who was serving a 10-year term on terrorism charges, but she refuses to recognise the pardon and demands a retrial to clear her name.
2007 August — Voters in a referendum back President Gayoom's proposal for a presidential system of government.
2008 January — President Gayoom survives an assassination attempt after 15-year-old boy scout Mohamed Jaisham wrestled a kitchen knife from the would-be killer's hands.
Pro-democracy campaigner won the islands' first democratic presidential election but says he was ousted in a coup
2008 August — President Gayoom ratifies new constitution that paves the way for first multi-party presidential elections.
2008 October — Opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed defeats President Gayoom in second round of voting, inaugurated as president in November.

Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Early Life and Family

Maumoon Abdul Gayoom is the son of Abdul Gayoom Ibrahim (Maafaiygey Dhon Seedhi) and Khadheeja Moosa. His father had 25 children from 8 wives. He is the 11th child of his family. Gayoom spent most of his youth in Egypt. He was part of a select group of 15 students chosen at to get an education abroad. At the age of 10, in 1947, he embarked for Egypt but the 1948–1949 Arab-Israeli war, forced him to spend r two and a half years in Ceylon, where he studied at the Buona Vista College, Galle and at Royal College, Colombo. He was only supposed to stay in Ceylon for a couple days and eventually made it Egypt in March 1950, after the end of the conflict.

In Egypt, Gayoom attended Al-Azhar University, one of the world’s oldest universities and one of the prestigious Islamic institutions. He spent six months learning Arabic. He joined the Faculty and graduated with honors in 1966, at the top of his class and was congratulated by President of Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser. He also obtained a secondary level certificate in English Language at the American University in Cairo.

While in Egypt, Gayoom led a group of 14 Maldivian students who sent a letter to Prime Minister Ibrahim Nasir and urged him not to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. For this his scholarships was taken away and he was supported by the Egyptian government. This support stopped after graduation in 1966 after he finished in studies. He got a post-graduate degree in Islamic history and philosophy.

In 1965, Gayoom met Nasreena Ibrahim, a student who had just arrived in Cairo from the Maldives. She was then 15 and he was 27. Four years later, they married in Cairo, in 1969. A few weeks after his marriage, he joined Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria as a lecturer in Islamic Studies and moved there with Nasreena. Gayoom and Nasreena had four children: Dunya Maumoon and Yumna Maumoon (twin girls), Faris Maumoon (oldest son) and Ghassan Maumoon (second son).

Gayoom’s Early Career in the Maldives

After two years in Nigeria, Gayoom returned to the Maldives in 1971. Three weeks later, he joined the Aminiyya School as a teacher of English, arithmetic and Islam. In 1972, he was appointed as the manager of the government shipping department. In March 1973, he was placed under house-arrest for criticising President Ibrahim Nasir's policies for having no human rights. He was tried in court and sentenced to banishment for four years. In May 1973 he was taken to Makunudhoo Island of Haa Dhaalu Atoll. He was released in October 1973, after serving only five months, as part of an amnesty following Nasir's re-election for a second five-year term.

In 1974, Gayoom was appointed under-secretary in the Telecommunications Department and soon afterwards promoted to director of the department. During this period, he also taught Islam, Arabic and English as a part-time teacher in some private schools. In July 1974, he was again arrested for criticising Nasir's policies. This time he was kept in solitary confinement in a prison in Malé After 50 days in jail, he was set free, in September 1974.

At the end of 1974 he was appointed special undersecretary in the office of Prime Minister Ahmed Zaki but the position of prime minister — as well Gayoom’s job — was abolished with the removal and banishment of Ahmed Zaki in 1975. At this time Gayoom was made the Deputy Ambassador of the Maldives to Sri Lanka and was sent to the United Nations for two months. He was then appointed the Deputy Minister of Transport and served at the United Nations from September 1976 to January 1977. In March 1977, Gayoom was appointed Minister of Transport, making him a member of Nasir's cabinet. He held the post until 10 November 1978.

Gayoom Becomes President of the Maldives

During the 1970s, the economic situation in Maldives suffered a setback when the Sri Lankan market for Maldives' main export of dried fish collapsed. Adding to the problems was the British decision in 1975 to close its airfield on Gan in line with its new policy of abandoning defense commitments east of the Suez Canal. A steep commercial decline followed the evacuation of Gan in March 1976. As a result, the popularity of Nasir's government suffered. Maldives's twenty-year period of authoritarian rule under Nasir abruptly ended in 1978 when he fled to Singapore. A subsequent investigation revealed that he had absconded with millions of dollars from the state treasury. [Source: Helen Chapin Metz, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

By 1978 Nasir’s popularity had plummeted, even among the ruling elite. According to the “Gale Encyclopedia of World History: Governments”: “He was criticized for his autocratic political style, and poor economic policies had left a hungry population protesting over rising prices for food. Consequently, Nasir announced he would resign in 1978. [Source: “Gale Encyclopedia of World History: Governments”, Thomson Gale, 2008]

After Nasir declined re-nomination, Gayoom was named president by the Citizens' Majlis (parliament) in November 1978. In July 1979, Gayoom was confirmed as president in a popular referendum by a majority of 90 percent. Gayoom would go on to serve 30 years and win six consecutive elections without opposition. The President of the Maldives is both the Head of Government and Head of State, with very little distinction between the two roles. Therefore, Gayoom was also the Commander-in-Chief of the Maldivian armed forces, the Maldives National Defence Force.

Gayoom’s Presidency

Gayoom’s peaceful ascension to the presidency and election was seen as ushering in a period of political stability and economic development. In 1978 Maldives joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Gayoom prioritized development the poorer islands. Tourism flourished and increased foreign contact spurred development. However, Maumoon's rule was controversial, with some critics saying Maumoon was an autocrat who quelled dissent by limiting freedoms and political favouritism.

Gayoom’s brothers occupied key advisory roles within the government, including speaker of parliament, minister of trade, and minister of atoll administration. President Gayoom was also minister of defense and national security, minister of finance, and governor of the national monetary authority. There was no prime minister. The president was assisted by an eleven-member cabinet, most of whom were Gayoom relatives. [Source: “Gale Encyclopedia of World History: Governments”, Thomson Gale, 2008]

Tourism gained in importance to the local economy, reaching more than 120,000 visitors in 1985. The local populace appeared to benefit from increased tourism and the corresponding increase in foreign contacts involving various development projects. The greatest challenge facing Maldives has been the need for rapid economic development and modernization, given the country's limited resource base in fishing and tourism.

Despite coup attempts in 1980, 1983, and 1988, Gayoom's popularity remained strong, allowing him to win three more presidential terms. In the 1983, 1988, and 1993 elections, Gayoom received more than 95 percent of the vote. Although the government did not allow any legal opposition, Gayoom was opposed in the early 1990s by Islamists who wanted to impose a more traditional way of life and by some powerful local business leaders. [Source: Helen Chapin Metz, Library of Congress, 1994]

Gayoom was was re-elected in a September 1983 referendum a second term with 95.6 percent of the vote. In September 1988, he was re-elected for a third term with 96.4 percent of the vote. In October 1993, he was elected for a fourth term with 92.76 percent of the popular vote. In October 1998, he was elected for an unprecedented fifth term of office, this time with 90.9 percent of the popular vote. He was last re-elected to a sixth five-year term in October 2003 with 90.28 percent of the vote. In all cases, he was only candidate — the only one nominated by the Majlis. Gayoom's principal rival for the presidency came in the 1993 election when his brother-in-law Ilyas Ibrahim ran against him. Ibrahim subsequently was tried in absentia for violation of the constitution, found guilty of treason,and was sentenced to 15 years of banishment.

Randeep Ramesh wrote in The Guardian: “Autocracy did bring wealth to the string of islands. President Gayoom single-handedly built the modern Maldivian economy that rests on high-end tourism, with resorts overlooking white sand beaches and crystal clear waters where hotels charge thousands of pounds a night. Its per capital income of $2,200 made the Maldives the wealthiest country in South Asia. But the figures masked huge inequalities, rampant drug abuse and corruption amid crumbling public infrastructure. People saw “a tiny group of people get very, very rich in the last thirty years. Meanwhile we have no communications between our islands. Our health system is in a bad way," the politician Naseem Mohamed said. [Source: Randeep Ramesh, The Guardian, October 29, 2008]

Coups d'état in the Maldives in the 1980s

There were three attempts to overthrow Gayoom's government during the 1980s. The first one was in 1980 and second attempt was in 1983. The third attempt, which was in 1988, succeeded in controlling the capital city and many government offices. This coup d'état was defeated by the Indian military. [Source: Helen Chapin Metz, Library of Congress, 1994; Wikipedia; “Gale Encyclopedia of World History: Governments”, Thomson Gale, 2008]

In 1980 loyalists of former president Nasir hired British mercenaries to try to overthrow Gayoom, but their plot was discovered before they could act. In 1983, a local businessman, Reeko Ibrahim Maniku, unsuccessfully tried to buy the 1983 presidential nomination for himself by bribing judges and members of parliament. Whereas the 1980 and 1983 coup attempts against Gayoom's presidency were not considered serious, the third coup attempt in November 1988 alarmed the international community. Roughly 80 mercenaries from PLOTE (a Sri Lankan militant group) seized the airport and caused Maumoon to flee from house to house until the intervention of 1,600 Indian troops airlifted into Malé at his Gayoom’s request restored order.

During the 1988 coup, the 80 armed Tamil mercenaries landed on Male before dawn aboard speedboats from a freighter. Disguised as visitors, a similar number had already infiltrated Male earlier. Although the mercenaries quickly gained the nearby airport on Hulele, they failed to capture President Gayoom, who fled from house to house and asked for military intervention from India, the United States, and Britain. Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi immediately dispatched 1,600 troops by air to restore order in Male. Less than twelve hours later, Indian paratroopers arrived on Hulele, causing some of the mercenaries to flee toward Sri Lanka in their freighter. Those unable to reach the ship in time were quickly rounded up. Nineteen people reportedly died in the fighting, and several taken hostage also died. Three days later an Indian frigate captured the mercenaries on their freighter near the Sri Lankan coast..

The November 1988 coup attempt occurred shortly after Gayoom was inaugurated for a third term. The coup plotters wanted to use Male as a gunrunning outpost and raise funds through the Maldivan tourist sector. The coup was headed by a once prominent Maldivian businessperson named Abdullah Luthufi, who was operating a farm on Sri Lanka. The Indian troops put down the invasion within twenty-four hours. In July 1989, a number of the mercenaries were returned to Maldives to stand trial. Gayoom commuted the death sentences passed against them to life imprisonment Ex-president Nasir denied any involvement in the coup. In fact, in July 1990, President Gayoom officially pardoned Nasir in absentia in recognition of his role in obtaining Maldives' independence.

Politics in the Gayoom Era in the Maldives (1978-2008)

During the Gayoom Era in the Maldives (1978-2008) presidential and Majlis elections are held on a nonpartisan basis because there are no organized political parties in the country. Candidates run as independents on the basis of personal qualifications. [Source: Helen Chapin Metz, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Although in 1994 Maldives had no organized political competition in the Western sense, partisan conflict occurred behind the scenes. Battles were intensely fought on the basis of factional or personal alliances among elite circles. For more than twenty years, until late 1978, the dominant faction had been led by former President Nasir, who ran the government with a firm hand and who seldom appeared in public. His sudden departure from Maldives, subsequently revealed as connected with malfeasance, ended a political era.*

Transition was smooth under the new leadership group presided over by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, a former cabinet member and diplomat who took office on November 11, 1978, after a peaceful election. The new president pledged to administer the country in a fair and more open manner by restoring civil rights, by establishing rapport at the grass-roots level, and by remedying the long neglect of popular welfare in the outer islands. However, criticism of alleged nepotism and corruption has continued through the 1980s and early 1990s.*

Gayoom's presidential cabinet, including his relatives in key positions, is considered a "kitchen cabinet" of traditional power holders that exert a strong influence against democratic reforms on a weak but relatively popular president. Events in the spring of 1990 tended to confirm that Gayoom's announced support for democratic reform was not being honored throughout the governmental power structure. In April, three pro-reform members of the Majlis received anonymous death threats. A few months later, all publications not sanctioned by the government were banned, and some leading writers and publishers were arrested. These actions followed the emergence of several politically outspoken magazines, including Sangu (Conch Shell). The circulation of this magazine increased from 500 in February 1990 to 3,000 in April.*

Gayoom reshuffled the cabinet in May 1990, dismissing his brother-in-law, Ilyas Ibrahim, as minister of state for defense and national security. Ibrahim had left the country suddenly, apparently before being called to account for embezzlement and misappropriation of funds. Gayoom placed him under house arrest when he returned in August 1990. He was cleared by an investigatory commission in March 1991 and appointed minister of atolls' administration. In April 1991, President Gayoom established a board to investigate charges of malfeasance against government officials. As a result of Gayoom's increasing assertion of his power in the early 1990s, by 1992 he had assumed the duties of both minister of defense and minister of finance, posts which he still held in August 1994 as well as that of governor of the Maldives Monetary Authority. Gayoom was reelected to a fourth five-year term as president in national elections in 1993. His principal rival, Ilyas Ibrahim, was sentenced to fifteen years' banishment after being found guilty of "treason" because of his attempts to win the presidency.*

2004 Tsunami and Global Warming in the Maldives

On December 26, 2004, Maldives suffered severe damage as a result of a massive tsunami triggered by a powerful underwater earthquake off the coast of Indonesia. Eighty-two people were killed. The country’s lucrative tourist and fishing industries were severely damaged. About 10 percent of the population lost their homes. The government said the disaster set back development work by 20 years. The estimated price tag for reconstruction was around $1 billion — double the country’s annual gross domestic product. [Source: “Gale Encyclopedia of World History: Governments”, Thomson Gale, 2008]

The tsunami in 2004 wiped out of 62 percent of the GDP of the Maldives By contrast Hurrican Katrina reduced the GDP of the United States by 0.5 to 1 percent. Despite the disaster, the Government of the Maldives held parliamentary elections, originally scheduled for December 31, on January 22, 2005. Reform candidates performed strongly. Following the poll, President Gayoom announced plans to establish multiparty democracy within a year. [Source: “Countries of the World and Their Leaders” Yearbook 2009, Gale]

In the late 1980s the Maldives joined with a number of coral atoll nations to raise international awareness of the consequences of global warming, and in 1989 hosted an international conference to discuss this issue. Leader In 2002, Gayoom warned that his country could be submerged if a rise in sea levels due to the melting of polar ice caps and glaciers. [Source: The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., The Columbia University Press]

Protests and Human Rights Abuses in the Maldives in the Mid 2000s

In 2003, Amnesty International accused the Maldives government of political repression and torture. It said arbitrary detentions, unfair trials, and long-term imprisonment of government critics are commonplace. In September 2003, unprecedented antigovernment riots broke out in Malé after the death of four inmates in a prison crackdown . In August 2004, a state of emergency was imposed after a pro-democracy demonstration became violent. Nearly 100 people were jailed. [Source: “Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations”, Thomson Gale, 2007]

The September 2003 riots followed the death of an inmate and a brief prison riot on an Island near Malé that left three other inmates dead. In response to the killings of the inmates, brief rioting took place on the streets of Malé . The government tried to prevent opposition rallies from taking place. Protesters called for reforms and demanded that human rights violations be addressed. They set fire to Election Division offices.

In August 2004, there were more demonstrations. Around 3,000 people filled the streets demanding political reform, more democracy and for the President fulfill promises made for more reforms. They gathered around the main police station in Male calling for the release of five reformist who were arrested and calling for the dismissal of several hard-line members of the government.. Crowds numbering in the thousands refused to disperse even after the five were released. Police used tear case and truncheons to disperse crowds after they torched a government building. Dozens were injured.

Invoking a constitutional provision that the president could suppress peaceful, democratic protests, Gayoom declared a state of emergency, saying basic rights would denied and denying people the right to gather. For a while all Internet, cell phone and text massaging services were suspended, A total of 185 people were arrested in the crack down. Among them were former Attorney General Mohammed Munavvar and former National Development Minister Ibrahim Hussain Zaki. Both were sacked in November 2003 because of their reformist positions.

Throughout 2006, the opposition faced restrictions on freedom of assembly, and the government continued to arrest opposition activists. The government also kept a tight reign on expressions of Islamic extremism. The government investigated links between religious extremists and a September 2007 bombing in a Male’ park that injured several tourists.

Political Reforms in the Mid 2000s

In the early 2000s, especially after the 2004 protests, the authoritarian government promised democratic reforms. In June 2004, Gayoom convened a special session of parliament to consider constitutional amendments, including limiting presidents to two five-year terms, increasing judicial independence, ending the president’s right to appoint eight members of parliament, and legalizing political parties.

In the January 2005, nonpartisan elections for the Majlis were held. Candidates supported by the banned opposition party won 18 seats. Pro-Gayoom candidates won 28 of the 48 elected seats, giving Gayoom another agreeable parliament. Before the election four of Gayoom’s main critics were arrested on corruption charges. President Gayoom subsequently called for the establishment of a multiparty democracy by the end of the year, and the Majlis approved the changes in June, but opposition party leader Mohamed Nasheed was arrested at a prodemocracy rally later in the year and charged with treason and terrorism. [Source: The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., The Columbia University Press]

In June 2005, parliament voted to allow multiparty politics. In March 2006, the government introduced a “Roadmap for Reform” and subsequently introduced several bills in parliament. In a 2007 referendum, voters approved a presidential system with direct election of the president rather than a parliamentary system. This was the option favored by Abdul Gayoom. Among the first political parties to register were the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, the government's Dhivehi Raiyyethunge Party, the Adalath (Justice) Party, and the Islamic Democratic Party

In August 2007, a referendum was held to decide whether Maldives’ new constitution would provide for a US-style presidential system or a British-Westminster-style parliamentary system of government — the presidential system won with a 62 percent vote — and said a presidential election had to be held before November 2008, according to the existing constitution.

Assassination Attempt on Gayoom in 2008

In January 2008, Gayoom escaped unharmed from an assassination attempt. Twenty-year-old Mohamed Murshid attempted to stab him with a knife concealed in a Maldives flag. The attempt was foiled when Mohamed Jaisham Ibrahim, a sixteen-year-old Boy Scout, blocked the attack with his bare hands, sustaining injuries.

Reuters reported: “A young man lunged at Maldives President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom with a kitchen knife in what his spokesman called an assassination attempt, but he was unharmed. “The President was in the far north for the inauguration of a renewable energy project. He was shaking hands with supporters, when a young man came and tried to stab him with a large kitchen knife,” Presidential spokesman Mohamed Shareef told Reuters. [Source: Reuters, January 8, 2008]

“He was saved by a boy who moved in the way and tried to grab the knife and suffered a serious injury to his hand,” he added. “The President was not hurt, but the knife did catch his shirt. It was definitely an assassination attempt on his life.”

Following a bombing in September 2007, that was linked to Islamic militants, Gayoom issued a wide-ranging decree designed to promote moderate Islam and suppress Islamic extremism.

Elections for the Maldives in 2008

In August 2008, a new constitution was adopted that allowed for direct election of the president, multiparty elections, and other democratic reforms. In October 2008, human rights activist Mohamed Nasheed was elected president, defeating Gayoom after a runoff.

The October 2008 Maldivian presidential election was the first presidential election Gayoom allowed to be contested. Nasheed, representing the Maldivian Democratic party (MDP) won 54.25 percent of the vote. Gayoom, representing Dhivehi Rayyithunge party (DRP), won 45.75 percent of the vote in the election's second round. Gayoom's opponents and international human rights groups had accused him of employing terror tactics against dissidents, such as arbitrary arrests, detention without trial, employing torture, forced confessions, and politically motivated killings.

Randeep Ramesh wrote in The Guardian: A human rights activist swept to power in the first democratic presidential polls in the Maldives, ousting from office the man who once imprisoned him and prompting jubilant scenes on the streets of the Indian Ocean island's capital Male. Mohamed 'Anni' Nasheed, a former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience who founded the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in 2003, secured 54 per cent of the vote. In a bitter campaign marked by personal animosity, Nasheed — a Sunni Muslim — was said to be spreading Christianity in the Islamic nation via his links with Britain's Conservative party. However his message of change coupled with a call for social and economic liberalism lifted him above the fray. The results mark the end of the three-decade rule of 71-year-old Maldivian strongman, Gayoom, who won the last six elections, never having before faced an opponent. Gayoom has had Nasheed thrown into jail several times over the last six years. [Source: Randeep Ramesh, The Guardian, October 29, 2008]

Following the results, Gayoom told the nation in a live concession speech that he fully supported Nasheed: "I accept the results of the ... run-off election and I respectfully congratulate Mr. Mohamed Nasheed and his party." Thousands of MDP supporters flocked to Malé, waving yellow flags while others rejoiced at the beachfront promenade where they had camped for days in support of the opposition. Nasheed, who had emerged as a unity candidate for the five opposition parties, said he wanted a "peaceful transition. I want my supporters to be calm."

Gayoom After His Presidency

After Gayoom lost the 2008 presidential election he remained active in politics. In opposition, he continued to serve as leader of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party until January 2010, when he retired from active politics. In n September 2011, he returned to Maldivian politics as the leader of the newly formed Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), whose candidate Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Maumoon's half-brother, was victorious in the 2013 presidential elections. [Source: Wikipedia]

In July 2016, due to disagreements between president Yameen and Maumoon, the party split into two factions. Later in October 27, Maumoon withdrew his support for president Yameen and joined the Maldives United Opposition.

Gayoom was arrested in 5 February 2018, for allegedly conspiring to overthrow the government along with his son-in-law Mohamed Nadheem. Maumoon's son, Faris Maumoon, was arrested and released, then arrested again a day after his release. Maldivian Democracy Network reported Maumoon and Farish were being tortured by not being allowed medical treatment. Gayoom was freed on bail in September 2018.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Republic of Maldives Department of Information, the government site (, Ministry of Tourism Maldives (, Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC,, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Wikipedia and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated February 2022

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