Maldives faces democracy test after ‘coup’ violence

CEAT Kelani Holdings Managing Director Ravi Dadlani (right) and Lanka Ashok Leyland CEO Umesh Gautham exchange the OEM agreement

MALE, September 5, 2013 (AFP) – The Indian Ocean archipelago of the Maldives goes to the polls this weekend for a presidential election that will test its young democracy 18 months after a violent change in leadership.

Its more than 1,000 islands sit aside the world’s most important east-west shipping channel and its strategic location was appreciated by former colonial master Britain, which ran a military base there until 1976.

The Waheed administration alienated New Delhi last December by aligning with known India antagonists and terminating Indian group GMR’s contract to run the international airport.

A new Chinese embassy which opened in 2011 has also raised eyebrows.

If no candidate secures a majority on Saturday, a run-off poll is scheduled for September 28.

Corrected Political unrest in February 2012 briefly threatened the country’s vital tourism sector, which draws a million well-heeled visitors a year, following the ousting of former president Mohamed Nasheed.

Nasheed, a scuba-diving former democracy activist, won the Maldives’ first free vote in 2008, but resigned last year after a mutiny by police officers.

The 46-year-old denounced it as a coup, saying he was forc

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