Polls open in Maldives run-off vote where Asia's longest-serving leader seeks re-election

Other News Materials 28 October 2008 08:54 (UTC +04:00)

Asia's longest-serving leader is facing a democracy activist he once held as a political prisoner as voting began in a run-off vote in the Maldives' first democratic presidential election, dpa reported.

President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who has led the tiny Muslim state through three decades of economic expansion but is accused of suppressing human rights, is hoping to win a seventh term in office.

The election is the first with more than one candidate on the ballot since the country gained independence from Britain in 1965, is seen as a referendum on Gayoom's policies and a test of the country's desire for change.

Voters quietly waited to cast their ballots polling booths opened at 9 a.m. (0400GMT) Tuesday. Preliminary results are expected later in the day or Wednesday.