Parliament accepts system change resolution

The Parliament, on Tuesday, accepted the resolution submitted by Hulhudhoo MP Ilyas Labeeb, calling for a constitutional referendum on changing the system of governance in Maldives.

Hulhudhoo MP Ilyas Labeeb, a member of the Democrats, had submitted the resolution which calls for a constitutional referendum to decide on changing the system of governance in Maldives, from a presidential system to a parliamentary system, last week.

It called originally called for a referendum to be held before November 30th – which is when the second round of voting in the presidential election is slated for.

But Ilyas later amended the resolution to change the deadline to October 30.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Parliament voted to accept resolution with a vote of 35 to nil.

It also decided to send the resolution to the Whole House Committee for review, with a vote of 34 to nil.

The Parliament’s speaker, former president Mohamed Nasheed announced the committee would convene to work on the resolution on 09:00 am on Wednesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, Nasheed, who himself is a member of the Democrats, said the Parliament can directly ask the Elections Commission (EC) to hold a constitutional referendum on changing the system of governance in Maldives, and does not need government approval.

He also promised to continue the parliamentary sitting until the work on the resolution is done, and the decision of the Parliament is shared with the EC – after MPs from the ruling MDP initially refused to attend the sitting, despite being present in the premises, resulting in a lack of quorum.

Nasheed said that calling a referendum was “clearly a power vested in the Parliament under the Constitution.”

He said that once the Parliament passes the resolution, and instructs the EC to hold a referendum, the commission will be legally obligated to do so.

He said the president has no role in it.

Ilyas, who submitted the resolution, said he decided to submit it based on the experience from the administrations that have come to power since 2008.

He said that the time has come to put the question of a system change, before the people.

Maldives held a constitutional referendum on a system change in 2007.

The majority decided to stick with the presidential system.

Differences in opinion regarding a system change had been the main point of conflict between Nasheed and President Solih, which led to members loyal to Nasheed leaving the MDP, to form the Democrats.