EC requests clarification on some matters ahead of system change referendum

Elections Commission (EC)'s Vice President Ismail Habeeb.

Elections Commission (EC) has appealed to the parliament to clarify some matters ahead of holding a constitutional referendum to decide on the system of governance in the Maldives.

EC’s Vice Chairperson Ismail Habeeb said the commission has received legal counsel regarding the resolution passed by the parliament seeking a constitutional referendum on the system of governance in the Maldives before November.

Habeeb said the commission, on Thursday, has appealed to the parliament secretariat to clarify some matters ahead of such a referendum. He did not provide any details as to what the commission asked to clarify. 

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, on September 12.

It originally called for a referendum to be held before November 30, but Ilyas later amended the resolution to change the deadline to October 30.

The Parliament voted to pass the resolution with the unanimous vote of 35 MPs, including some from the ruling MDP, on Wednesday afternoon.

The General Elections Act stipulates that the EC must receive 30-45 days to hold an election.

EC has stated that it needs to meet certain legal obligations, such as giving time for voters to re-register, and time to submit complaints to the voter’s list.

So far, the Democrats are the only political party pushing for a referendum, as advocated by the party’s driving force, Parliament Speaker, former president Mohamed Nasheed, in pursuit of a parliamentary system. Other parties have stated they are happy with the current presidential system.

However, during negotiations with Democrats for a potential coalition deal after the first round of voting in the presidential election on September 9, both the MDP and PPM-PNC said it was not opposed to a referendum, but only after the election runoff.