Gayoom, Maumoon Abdul (mämōnˈ äbˈdōl gĪōmˈ) [key], 1937–, Maldivian political leader, president of the Maldives (1978–2008), b. Malé. He studied at Al-Azhar Univ. in Cairo, then was a research assistant at the American Univ., Cairo (1967–69) and taught at Ahmadu Bello Univ., Zaria, Nigeria (1969–71). Following his return to the Maldives in 1971, Gayoom served in numerous government posts, including undersecretary to the prime minister, representative to the United Nations, and transportation minister. When President Ibrahim Nasir resigned in 1978, Gayoom was elected to succeed him. He was reelected in 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, and 2003. Often criticized for his autocratic rule, Gayoom survived numerous coup and assassination attempts. After a new constitution was adopted that permitted the direct election of the president, Gayoom lost (2008) to opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed.
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