The usual din of fishmongers’ cries on the Maldivian capital’s waterfront was drowned out by loud boos on Tuesday when a truck carrying flag-waving activists campaigning to re-elect President Abdulla Yameen lumbered past them. It’s a sight that has become common in Male’s busy market, where a web of pink and yellow campaign banners hangs between every lamppost and from every fishing boat’s mast. Earlier this week, Yameen’s spokesman was booed out of the area by opposition supporters angry over corruption and human rights abuses in this popular Indian Ocean honeymoon destination. Yameen, 59, is standing for a second five-year term in polls on Sunday, promising “transformative economic development”, including jobs and housing for the Maldives’ large youth population.
The election is taking place amid a wide-ranging crackdown on dissent.
Over the past five years, Yameen has suspended parliament and jailed or forced into exile nearly all his political rivals, including two Supreme Court judges who defied him by ordering the release of opposition leaders.
The president also declared two states of emergency in three years, citing threats to national security. But the opposition coalition said the measures were aimed at staving off impeachment.