Maumoon Abdul Gayoom

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Maumoon Abdul Gayoom
އަލްއުސްތާޛް މައުމޫން އަބްދުލް ޤައްޔޫމް

3rd President of the Maldives
In office
11 November 1978 – 11 November 2008
Preceded byIbrahim Nasir
Succeeded byMohamed Nasheed
Personal details
Born (1937-12-29) 29 December 1937 (age 83)
Malé, Maldives
Political partyMaldives Reform Movement (2019–)
Other political
Progressive Party of Maldives (2011–2017)
Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (2005–2011)
Independent (Until 2005)
Spouse(s)Nasreena Ibrahim (married 1969)
ChildrenDunya Maumoon
Yumna Maumoon
Faris Maumoon
Ghassan Maumoon

Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (Dhivehi: އަލްއުސްތާޛް މައުމޫން އަބްދުލް ޤައްޔޫމް; born December 29, 1937) is a Maldivian politician and an Islamic scholar who ruled the country as the President of Maldives from 1978 to 2008. After serving as Minister of Transport, he was nominated as President by the Majlis (Parliament) of the Maldives and succeeded Ibrahim Nasir in 1978. He was defeated in the October 2008 presidential election.[1] In opposition, he continued to serve as leader of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party until January 2010, when he retired from active politics.

However, in September 2011, he returned to Maldivian politics as the leader of the newly formed Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), whose candidate Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Maumoon's half-brother, was victorious in the 2013 presidential elections. In July 2016, due to disagreements between president Yameen and Maumoon, the party split into two factions. Later in October 27, Maumoon withdrew his support for president Yameen and joined the Maldives United Opposition.[2][3]

Gayoom was arrested on 5 February 2018, for allegedly conspiring to overthrow the government along his son-in-law Mohamed Nadheem. Maumoon's son, Faris Maumoon, was arrested and released, then arrested again a day after his release. Maldivian Democracy Network reported Maumoon and Farish were being tortured by not being allowed medical treatment.[4][5][6]

Gayoom was freed on bail on 30 September 2018.

Career and politics[edit]

Education and family life[edit]

Maumoon Abdul Gayoom is the son of Abdul Gayyoom Ibrahim (Maafaiygey Dhon Seedhi) and Khadheeja Moosa. His father had 25 children from 8 wives. He is the 11th child of his family.

He spent most of his youth in Egypt. He was part of a group of 15 students chosen at the initiative of Mohamed Amin Didi to get an education abroad. At the age of 10, in 1947, he embarked for Egypt. However, because of the troubles which led to the Arab-Israeli war of 1948–1949, his layover in Ceylon, scheduled to last several days, lasted for two and a half years during which he studied at the Buona Vista College, Galle, and Royal College, Colombo.[7] He eventually reached Egypt in March 1950, after the end of the conflict.

He attended Al-Azhar University. He spent six months learning Arabic. He joined the Faculty and graduated in 1966.[citation needed] He also obtained a secondary level certificate in the English Language at the American University in Cairo.

In 1965, he met Nasreena Ibrahim, a student who had just arrived in Cairo from the Maldives for her studies. She was then 15 and he was 27. Four years later, they married in Cairo, on 14 July 1969. A few weeks after his marriage, he joined Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria as a lecturer in Islamic Studies and moved there with Nasreena.[citation needed]

Early career in the Maldives[edit]

When his two-year contract with Ahmadu Bello University ended, he returned to the Maldives in 1971. Three weeks later, he joined the Aminiyya School as a teacher of English, arithmetic and Islam. In 1972, he was appointed as the manager of the government shipping department.

On 12 March 1973, he was placed under house-arrest for criticising President Ibrahim Nasir's policies for having no human rights. He was tried in court and sentenced to banishment for four years on 14 May 1973. On 21 May, he was taken to Makunudhoo Island of Haa Dhaalu Atoll. he was released on 13 October 1973, after serving only five months, as a result of an amnesty following Nasir's re-election for a second five-year term.

In 1974, he was appointed under-secretary in the Telecommunications Department. He was thereafter promoted to director of the department. During this period, he worked as a part-time teacher in some private schools, teaching Islam, Arabic and English.

On 28 July 1974, he was again arrested for criticising Nasir's policies. This time he was kept in solitary confinement in a prison in Malé nicknamed the 'China Garden', as Chinese fishermen were once detained there. This prison was later demolished during Gayoom's presidency and the Islamic Centre was erected on the site. After 50 days in jail, he was set free, in September 1974.

Six weeks later, he was appointed special undersecretary in the office of Prime Minister Ahmed Zaki. The post of Prime Minister was abolished with the removal and banishment of Ahmed Zaki from office, on 6 March 1975. With this decision, his position vanished as well. However, when he returned from Colombo, he was made the Deputy Ambassador of the Maldives to Sri Lanka. In 1975, he was sent to the United Nations for two months as a member of the Maldives delegation, part of the department of External Affairs (as the Foreign Ministry was then called). After nine weeks, he was appointed the Deputy Minister of Transport. One year later, he was tenured at the United Nations from September 1976 to January 1977. On 29 March 1977, Gayoom was appointed Minister of Transport, making him a member of Nasir's cabinet. He held the post until 10 November 1978.


As Ibrahim Nasir's second term was coming to an end, he decided not to seek re-election and, in June 1978, the Citizen's Majlis was called upon to nominate a presidential candidate as required under the then-existing constitution. There were 45 votes for Nasir (despite his stated intention not to seek re-election), with the remaining 3 votes for Abdul Gayoom. Another ballot was called on 16 June. He received 27 votes, allowing his name to be put forward as the sole candidate.

Five months later, he was elected the new President of the Maldives, with 92.96% of the votes. In a 1983 referendum, he was re-elected on 30 September for a second term, polling 95.6%. On 23 September 1988, he was re-elected for a third term with 96.4% of the popular vote. On 1 October 1993, he was elected for a fourth term with 92.76% of the popular vote. On 16 October 1998, he was elected for a fifth term of office, this time with 90.9% of the popular vote. He was last re-elected to a sixth five-year term in October 2003 with 90.28% of the vote. In all cases, he was the sole candidate, having been nominated by the Majlis.

The President of the Maldives is both the Head of Government and Head of State, with very little distinction between the two roles. Therefore, Gayoom was also the Commander-in-Chief of the Maldivian armed forces, the Maldives National Defence Force. Additionally he held the portfolio of Minister of Finance,[8] and the position of the governor of Maldives Monetary Authority.[9]

In a 2007 referendum, voters approved a presidential system with direct election of the president rather than a parliamentary system.

Coups d'état[edit]

There were three attempts to overthrow Abdul Gayoom's government during the 1980s. The first one was in 1980 and second attempt was in 1983. The third attempt, which was in 1988, succeeded in controlling the capital city and many government offices. This coup d'état in Maldives against Abdul Gayoom's rule was toppled by Indian military.

Assassination attempt[edit]

On 8 January 2008, Abdul Gayoom escaped unharmed from an assassination attempt at Hoarafushi. Mohamed Murshid, a twenty-year-old man from the island, attempted to stab him with a knife concealed in a Maldives flag. The attempt was foiled when Mohamed Jaisham Ibrahim, a sixteen-year-old Boy Scout from the island, blocked the attack with his bare hands. Jaisham sustained injuries during the intervention and was subsequently treated.[10][11]

2008 elections[edit]

The October 2008 Maldivian presidential election was the first presidential election Maumoon Abdul Gayoom allowed to be contested.[12] Standing as the DRP candidate, he lost in the election's second round, in which he received 45.75% of the vote against 54.25% for his opponents. MDP's Presidential Candidate Mohamed Nasheed accordingly succeeded Abdul Gayoom as President on November 11, 2008, with Gaumee Itthihaad's candidate Dr. Mohammed Waheed Hassan taking the new post of Vice President.

Abdul Gayoom's opponents and international human rights groups had accused him of employing terror tactics against dissidents, such as arbitrary arrests, detention without trial,[13][14] employing torture, forced confessions, and politically motivated killings.[15] Abdul Gayoom's tenure was marked by corruption as well as autocratic rule, and, for a country so small, appalling human rights abuses and instances of torture.[16][17] Even after he left office, he had a strong influence in parliament. Abdul Gayoom was declared the "Zaeem", or Honorary Leader, of his party in 2010.[18]


  1. ^ "Premium content". 2008-10-30. Retrieved 2010-01-22.
  2. ^ Fathimath Saya Ahmed (7 January 2018). "Maumoon maintains "firm commitment against supporting the govt."". Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  3. ^ "Is this the formation of a Z-PPM?". 2 July 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  4. ^ Rushdha Rasheed (9 February 2018). "Pres. Maumoon transferred to Maafushi jail". Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  5. ^ Humaam Ali (14 February 2018). "Ex-President Gayoom and sons being tortured: MDN". Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  6. ^ Aishath Shaany (27 January 2018). "MP Faris Maumoon arrested, this time for 'conspiring to overthrow government'". Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  7. ^ Galle’s Buona Vista, Alma Mater to distinguished Alumni faces closure, Education Times, 06 June 2015
  8. ^ "Ministry of Finance".
  9. ^ "Maldives Monetary Authority".
  10. ^ ", Boy Scout saves Maldives President from assassination". Jan 7, 2008. Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2010-01-22.
  11. ^ President's Office, Republic of Maldives, news release Archived February 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Vote count underway after landmark Maldives election". Agence France-Presse. 2008-10-08. Archived from the original on 2011-05-20. Retrieved 2008-10-08.
  13. ^ "South Asia | Maldives dissident denies crimes". BBC News. 2005-05-19. Retrieved 2010-01-22.
  14. ^ "Maldives". IFEX. Retrieved 2010-01-22.
  15. ^ United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2004-05-26). "Amnesty International Report 2004 – Maldives". Archived from the original on 2013-04-16. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
  16. ^ "MP Moosa Manik files torture complaint against former President abdul Gayoom | Minivan News". Archived from the original on 2015-02-17. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
  17. ^ "qayoom is fully aware of torture in the Maldives | Maverick Magazine". Retrieved 2013-08-21.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ Miadhu News – Maumoon bestowed with the title of “Honorary Leader” Archived 2011-07-14 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2011-04-14.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Ibrahim Nasir
President of the Maldives
Succeeded by
Mohamed Nasheed
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Benazir Bhutto
Chairperson of SAARC
Succeeded by
Ranasinghe Premadasa
Preceded by
P V Narasimha Rao
Chairperson of SAARC
Succeeded by
Chandrika Kumaratunga