Gayoom defeated in Presidential elections
2008-10-29 08:45:01

Gayoom defeated in Presidential elections Male (AFP) - A former political prisoner has swept to victory in the Maldives' first-ever democratic presidential election, unseating Asia's longest-serving leader, officials said Wednesday.

The Indian Ocean archipelago nation's election commission said that with nearly all votes from Tuesday's historic polls counted, Mohamed "Anni" Nasheed had won 54 percent of votes to 46 percent for incumbent leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Gayoom, 71, had ruled the tourist paradise islands unchallenged since 1978, and had in the past thrown Nasheed into jail.

Gayoom failed to win an outright victory in the first round of voting three weeks ago, prompting the run-off against the charismatic 41-year-old Nasheed, once described by Amnesty International as a "prisoner of conscience."

Nasheed , a political moderate, has promised to root out corruption, deliver better healthcare and communications to remote islands, cut state spending, privatise state trading enterprises and turn the lavish presidential palace into a university.

With almost 97.5 percent of the ballots counted, Nasheed had a 14,000-vote lead that put him safely above the 50 percent mark even if all the remaining ballots went to Gayoom , an election official said. Officials put voter turnout at about 75 percent of the total electorate of 209,000 people.

CAPTION; FILE PHOTO OF Maldives Democratic Party's presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed WHO HAS BEEN ELECTED AS THE PRESIDENT..

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