Maldivians clear path for a woman on top, but will there be footprints?

Feb 06, 2008 (LBO) – Maldives have cleared the bar to elect a woman president, but the glass ceiling is unlikely to shatter soon as the incumbent strongman wants to rule on into a fourth decade, analysts said. Though the 50-member majlis, a representative body, has cleared the way Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, 70, has already announced plans to contest the presidency under a new constitution this year, adding to the six terms he has already served since 1978.

In place

He is already Asia’s longest serving leader.

Political parties have only been legal on the 1,192 coral islands since 2005 when Gayoom embarked on a series of reforms in the face of pro-democracy protests.

Gayoom has previously been the sole presidential candidate nominated by a 50-member majlis, or local parliament — eight members of which are his own nominees.

Opposition parties see Gayoom as autocratic, leading the country to anarchy and mismanaging the economy of just under a billion dollars, but it is easily South Asia’s richest state with the highest per capita income and lowest inflation.

But none of the parties have named their presidential candidate. Instead the main opposition Maldivian Democrati