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.