Male, Oct 29 : Maldives President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Asia's longest serving leader and a campaigner against rising sea levels on Wednesday lost power to a former political prisoner Mohammed Nasheed in the first-ever democratic presidential polls in the island nation.
President Gayoom, 71, won the first round this month, but failed to secure the 50 per cent needed for outright victory
Nasheed of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had won 54.25 per cent of the votes cast in on Tuesday's presidential run-off as against 45.75 per cent by Gayoom, election officials said.
Conceding defeat to Nausheed, a prominent face of the pro-democracy protests in the country who has been in and out of jail, Gayoom said, "I congratulate him".
"I thank the people of the Maldives for allowing me to serve them for 30 years," Gayoom added.
The victory of Nasheed marks a watershed in the history of Maldives where a ban on opposition parties was effective till 2004. Gayoom had won the six previous presidential elections but never before faced an opponent.
During his tenure, Gayoom survived at least three coup attempts. The most serious was in 1988 when a disgruntled Maldivian businessman hired Sri Lankan Tamil mercenaries to stage an armed attack on the capital.
It was put down with the help of troops from neighbouring India.