Reformist Maldives leader seeks to overcome split in polls

Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is hoping Saturday's parliamentary elections will help him overcome a coalition split that has hampered his efforts to restore political freedoms and tackle corruption.

Solih's Maldivian Democratic Party is seeking at least 44 seats in the 87-member Parliament for a majority to pass legislation needed to implement pledges from last year's presidential campaign. His coalition currently has 52 seats, but one partner with 22 seats is now aligned with former strongman Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Solih defeated Yameen last year, giving new hope to the young democracy that has gone through a tumultuous transition that threatened to drag the Indian Ocean archipelago back to its autocratic past. Yameen had curtailed freedom of speech and jailed his political rivals.