New Maldives president is former dictator`s half-brother

Last Updated: Sunday, November 17, 2013 - 16:52

Male: Abdulla Yameen, who has won the second democratically held presidential election in the Maldives, is the half-brother of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the Indian ocean archipalego nation with an iron hand for 30 years.

Yamaeen, 54, is a fourth-time member of parliament and won the presidential poll narrowly by garnering 51.60 percent of the vote cast in the second and final runoff of the election held Saturday. His rival and former president Mohamed Nasheed got 48.61 percent of the vote.

Yameen contested the presidential election as a candidate of the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), which had split off from the Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) following an acrimonious falling out between Abdul Gayoom and his anointed successor, Ahmed Thasmeen Ali.

Born May 21, 1959, in Male, Yameen and his half-brother Abdul Gayoom are sons of Abdul Qayyoom Ibrahim, a former attorney general of the Maldives.

Yameen completed his primary and secondary education in the Maldives after which he acquired a Bachelor in Business Administration degree from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. He later acquired a post-graduate degree in public policy from the Claremont Graduate University in California, US.

Yameen is married to his wife of 27 years and is the father of three children.

He was the chairman of the State Electric Company (STELCO) as well as the State Trading Organisation (STO) during Gayoom`s administration and was credited with turning both these organisations into profit-making entities.

Yameen first entered parliament in 1993 and was elected for three successive terms. He is currently serving his fourth term as a member of the People`s Majlis from Mulaku constituency.

Yameen won the PPM`s primaries in March 2013 with 63 percent of the vote, defeating ex-policeman and firebrand political activist Umar Naseer.

After his defeat, Naseer publicly accused Yameen of rigging the election, and of being backed by a coterie of "gangsters, drug cartels and Gayoom`s children", according to Minivan News. Yameen refuted the accusations and Naseer was later evicted from the party.

Yameen, as well as his rival presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim of the Jumhooree Party (JP) this year, were arrested and briefly detained during the administration of the Maldives` first democratically elected president, Mohamed Nasheed, in June 2010 on charges of bribery and attempting to topple the government.

Members of parliament had accused the duo of conspiring to pay off MPs to obtain the two-thirds majority in the chamber necessary to impeach the president. Yameen was defended by present Attorney General Azima Shukoor, while Gasim was defended by his running mate in the 2013 election, Hassan Saeed. They were later released.

Gasim Ibrahim, who was eliminated after the first round held Nov 9, backed Yameen in the second and final runoff.

This year`s presidential election was rescheduled three times in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

The Supreme Court annulled the first round of polling Sep 7 after allegations of mass-scale rigging.

A second attempt Oct 19 was called off just hours before voting was to begin after police refused to distribute ballot papers and boxes to the country`s 200-odd islands because the voters` lists were not signed by Yameen and Ibrahim.

In the third attempt, the Supreme Court Nov 10 blocked the second round runoff and postponed it to Nov 16.

Hours after initial results showed that Abdulla Yameen won Saturday`s second round of presidential election, the PPM candidate said he would propose a pay cut due to the current plight of the country`s economy, Xinhua reported.

Credited with economic acumen, Yameen said at a press conference with his coalition partners that he would propose cutting half of his salary to kick-start the economy.

For him, the first order of business for his government would be to revise the budget for next year, and he hoped his opponents in parliament would cooperate in efforts to overcome the challenges faced by the country.

PTI

First Published: Sunday, November 17, 2013 - 16:52

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