“The Maldives — more than 1,100 islands scattered across the Indian Ocean — are sharply divided along political lines. The first democratically elected president insists his former deputy helped force him out in a coup d’etat,” writes Krishnan Francis for the Associated Press.
“And the brother of the longtime dictator of the country, where widespread unemployment exists alongside some of the world’s most expensive beach resorts, now wants to be president himself.
Few hope that Saturday’s presidential elections will soothe the divisions that have inflamed the archipelago since last year, when former President Mohamed Nasheed resigned amid a standoff with security forces and widespread protests.
‘‘Even families are divided and some are not on talking terms,’’ said Mohamed Visham, editor of local English daily Haveeru. He said the new leader will have to shift attention away from the political divide and toward issues like economic development and infrastructure.
The Maldives had its first democratic presidential elections just five years ago, after 30 years of dictatorship under Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Most of its public institutions, from the police to the public service commission and the courts, are widely seen as political partisan, and it is believed that most government workers continue to support Gayoom.”