Parliament unanimously backs constitutional referendum proposal

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On Tuesday, the Parliament unanimously accepted a resolution proposed by Hulhudhoo MP Ilyas Labeeb, a member of the Democrats, calling for a constitutional referendum to potentially alter the country’s governance system. Originally, the resolution aimed for a referendum before November 30th, coinciding with the second round of the presidential election.

However, Ilyas Labeeb later amended the deadline to October 30.

In a resounding 35-0 vote, the Parliament approved the resolution and decided to refer it to the Whole House Committee for review, passing with a vote of 34-0. Former President Mohamed Nasheed, who serves as the Parliament’s speaker and is also a member of the Democrats, announced that the committee would convene at 9:00 am on Wednesday to deliberate on the resolution.

Nasheed asserted that the Parliament possesses the authority to directly request the Elections Commission (EC) to conduct a constitutional referendum on changing the governance system, without requiring government approval. He committed to keeping the parliamentary session ongoing until the resolution’s progress is completed, and the Parliament communicates its decision to the EC. Initially, MPs from the ruling MDP had declined to attend the session, causing a lack of quorum.

Ilyas Labeeb, the resolution’s proponent, cited the experiences of administrations since 2008 as the basis for submitting the resolution. He argued that it is time to pose the question of a potential system change to the people. Notably, Maldives held a constitutional referendum on a system change in 2007, with the majority deciding to retain the presidential system. Differences in opinions regarding this system change have been a significant source of conflict between Mohamed Nasheed and President Solih, leading to the formation of the Democrats by members loyal to Nasheed after leaving the MDP.