The presidential and Majlis elections are held on a
nonpartisan basis because there are no organized political
parties in the country. Candidates run as independents on
basis of personal qualifications.
Although in 1994 Maldives had no organized political
competition in the Western sense, partisan conflict
behind the scenes. Battles were intensely fought on the
factional or personal alliances among elite circles. For
than twenty years, until late 1978, the dominant faction
led by former President Nasir, who ran the government with
hand and who seldom appeared in public. His sudden
Maldives, subsequently revealed as connected with
ended a political era.
Transition was smooth under the new leadership group
over by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, a former cabinet member and
diplomat who took office on November 11, 1978, after a
election. The new president pledged to administer the
a fair and more open manner by restoring civil rights, by
establishing rapport at the grass-roots level, and by
the long neglect of popular welfare in the outer islands.
However, criticism of alleged nepotism and corruption has
continued through the 1980s and early 1990s.
Gayoom's presidential cabinet, including his relatives
positions, is considered a "kitchen cabinet" of
holders that exert a strong influence against democratic
on a weak but relatively popular president. Events in the
of 1990 tended to confirm that Gayoom's announced support
democratic reform was not being honored throughout the
governmental power structure. In April, three pro-reform
of the Majlis received anonymous death threats. A few
later, all publications not sanctioned by the government
banned, and some leading writers and publishers were
These actions followed the emergence of several
outspoken magazines, including Sangu (Conch Shell).
circulation of this magazine increased from 500 in
to 3,000 in April.
Gayoom reshuffled the cabinet in May 1990, dismissing
brother-in-law, Ilyas Ibrahim, as minister of state for
and national security. Ibrahim had left the country
apparently before being called to account for embezzlement
misappropriation of funds. Gayoom placed him under house
when he returned in August 1990. He was cleared by an
investigatory commission in March 1991 and appointed
atolls' administration. In April 1991, President Gayoom
established a board to investigate charges of malfeasance
government officials. As a result of Gayoom's increasing
assertion of his power in the early 1990s, by 1992 he had
the duties of both minister of defense and minister of
posts which he still held in August 1994 as well as that
governor of the Maldives Monetary Authority. Gayoom was
to a fourth five-year term as president in national
1993. His principal rival, Ilyas Ibrahim, was sentenced to
fifteen years' banishment after being found guilty of
because of his attempts to win the presidency.
Data as of August 1994