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October 8, 2008
Maldives holds historic election


The capital of Maldives, Male.

Voters in the island nation of Maldives went to the polls today for the first time in 30 years. Polling for the presidential election was extended after reports of irregularities.

The election pits 30-year incumbent President Mamoun Abdul Gayoom — Asia’s longest-serving leader — against a variety of opposition candidates including those from the Maldivian Democratic Party. Gayoom promised a more genuine democratic system following riots in the capital, Male, in August 2004.

A resident of Male at the “Club Escape” blog writes about the voting experience and calls the election a circus.

The “Dhivehi Observer” blog, from the authors of an independent publication banned by Gayoom, posts about problems voting in the town of Vilimale, where thousands of people are waiting to vote with only one booth.

The blog also covers other irregularities, including problems with ink and rigged voting, as well as a history of the last 30 years and a stinging critique of Gayoom.

A citizen journalist at the Maldives Chronicle writes that Gayoom may be defeated.

The “Maldives Dissent” blog writes about each of the candidates and predicts victory for either independent candidate Hassan Saeed or Maldivian Democratic Party candidate Mohamed Nasheed. The blogger has criticized both Gayoom and the Madivian Democratic Party.

About 208,000 people are eligible to vote in Maldives — roughly the population size of Boise, Idaho.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user jinaa under a Creative Commons license.

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