Parliament approves constitutional amendment for councilors’ term extension

Speaker of Parliament, former President Mohamed Nasheed presides over a parliamentary sitting. (Photo/People's Majlis)

The Parliament has just passed a constitutional amendment designed to allow an extension to the term of incumbent councilors until such time as the coronavirus situation improves enough to hold the local council elections to elect new councilors.

The Maldives was scheduled to hold the local council elections on April 4 but was forced to postpone the elections due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The amendment was passed with the vote of 74 MPs.

The term of incumbent councilors is set to expire on Wednesday and could have plunged the country into a legal vacuum.

The constitutional amendment to extend the term of incumbent councilors, submitted on behalf of the government by Biledhdhoo MP Ahmed Haleem, is designed to work alongside a sunset law to postpone the local council elections as late as January 6 next year which was passed in late April.

The constitutional amendment was reviewed by the Whole House Sub Committee, which on Friday, voted in favor of removing the first article of the bill and adding two clauses to Article 231 of the Constitution.

The two changes were proposed by the parliamentary group leader of ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Central Henveyru MP Ali Azim.

Article 231 (f) will see incumbent councilors remain in power until new ones are elected to the post if their term expires before the local council elections are held., while Article 231 (g) will see councilors remain in their posts are to carry out their duties under a transitional policy through an Act to be enacted by the Parliament.

The Parliament, on early Tuesday, passed the bill along with the changes.