MALE, Aug 19, 2007 (AFP) – Voters in the Maldives were waiting for results Sunday from a referendum on how they want to be governed in future, after the tiny Pacific nation got an unusual taste of democracy. Protestors led by the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have taken to the streets in recent years to demand greater civil rights and protest Gayoom’s rule, described by opponents as autocratic. Ruled by Asia’s longest-serving leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom since 1978, residents voted Saturday on whether to adopt a US-style presidential or British-style parliamentary government in the mostly Sunni Muslim country.
Political parties have only been legal in the Maldives, a chain of more than 1,000 coral islands and one of the world’s most exotic tourist spots, since 2005 — when Gayoom announced a series of political reforms.
Gayoom, who has campaigned for a presidential government which would be a stronger central executive, has promised an independent judiciary and police and broader fundamental rights to citizens under a new constitution.
Opponents have been pushing for a British-style parliamentary model.
With results trickling in to the capital Male from across the islands, som