Gayoom, Maumoon Abdul (Maldives)
In power as president of the Maldives from 1978–2008, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was Asia’s longest-serving leader. Gayoom had succeeded Ibrahim Nasir, who served from 1954 and was the premier when the Maldives became independent in 1965. He was re-elected by referendum for a sixth consecutive 5 year term in office in Oct. 2003 but lost out to Mohamed Nasheed in the presidential election of Oct. 2008. During Gayoom’s tenure he developed industry, especially the main sectors of fishing and tourism, attracted investment and improved healthcare. But strict censorship and the suppression of opposition led to international concern.
Gayoom was born on 29 Dec. 1937 in Malé where he received his early schooling. After studying in Sri Lanka and Cairo, Egypt, he completed a degree in Islamic studies at the Al-Azhar University, Cairo. He subsequently taught in Nigeria and Malé. He began working for the government in 1972 when he was employed in the shipping department. 2 years...