Maldives elects a president in 4th try

Brother of nation's longtime dictator wins in a runoff

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MALE, Maldives — Voters in the Maldives have chosen the brother of the archipelago nation's former strongman to be their new president over the country's first democratically elected leader in a closely fought runoff election Saturday.

Yaamin Abdul Gayoom had 51.39 percent of the total vote, according to results provided by the official Elections Commission. Gayoom is the brother of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who was autocrat of this Indian Ocean nation for 30 years.

Mohamed Nasheed, who was elected president in the first multiparty election in 2008 but resigned last year amid protests, received 48.61 percent of the vote.

Nasheed led with 47 percent in last week's first round to Gayoom's 30 percent. The runoff was required because no candidate got 50 percent.

Gayoom courted supporters of tourist resort owner Qasim Ibrahim, who finished third with 23 percent of the vote last week.

With his victory apparent, Gayoom told reporters that Maldivians have decided what's best for them and asked the international community to respect their choice.

"It's now time to bring peace; the people have decided. It's now time for development," he said.

Nasheed conceded the election and said he would not challenge the results.

"This is a very happy day for all of us; we now have an elected president," he said. "We don't want to go to the courts."

The Maldives had failed to elect a president in three attempts since September, raising concerns in the international community that the fledgling democracy may slip back to authoritarian rule.

The Maldives is a predominantly Muslim nation of 350,000 people. About 240,000 Maldivians were eligible to vote Saturday, and turnout was more than 91 percent.