Central & South Asia
Maldives swears in new president
Former political prisoner becomes country's first democratically elected leader.
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2008 09:27 GMT
Nasheed comes to power after three decades of Gayoom's unchallenged rule [File: AFP]

Mohamed Nasheed, a former political prisoner, has been sworn in as the first democratically elected  president of Maldives.

Nasheed, 41, took his oath of office on Tuesday at a ceremony televised  live from a convention centre in the capital Male. 

Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the former president who had led the nation  for 30 years and was Asia's longest-serving leader, was beaten by Nasheed in an October 28 run-off election held in line with democratic reforms launched in August 2005.

Gayoom has been praised for helping bring major development to this small nation of 1,190 coral islands.

But Maldives faces a housing shortage, rising crime and drug abuse.

The outgoing president had campaigned for re-election, saying he was the only individual who could implement changes across the country. The opposition, however, accused Gayoom of using corruption and strong-arm tactics to maintain his rule.

Gayoom had survived at least three coup attempts.

The Maldives, a Sunni Muslim nation of 300,000 people, has never held multi-party elections before.

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