EC targets October 29 referendum

Elections Commission's chairman Fuad Thaufeeq. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Elections Commission (EC)’s chairman Fuad Thaufeeq says the commission has discussed holding the referendum on a change in the system of governance on October 29, and will begin preparations as soon as it receives the budget.

In a press conference on Saturday, Fuad said the commission can begin running awareness programs related to the referendum next week, once it receives the budget.

“On Friday, we were drafting and discussing a regulation for the referendum, as there is currently no law that must be followed if a referendum should be taken to change the system,” he said.

Fuad said the commission will conduct the referendum in accordance with the law, if one is instructed by the Parliament, or by the president.

“Some question whether this is the most appropriate time, but we intend to do this, depending on how much time we have,” he said.

EC’s vice chairman Ismail Habeeb said that while the EC is working to hold the referendum on October 29, the commission still needs sufficient time to get the information they have requested from the Parliament, and to compile the voter’s list and run awareness programs.

“We cannot get this done if we don’t get the budget,” he said.

The Parliament passed a resolution, calling for a constitutional referendum to decide on changing the system of governance in Maldives, from a presidential system to a parliamentary system, on Wednesday.

The resolution was submitted by Hulhudhoo MP Ilyas Labeeb, a member of the Democrats.

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 resolution passed with the unanimous vote of 35 MPs.

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

The commission 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.

The commission estimates it will take between MVR 40-50 million to hold the referendum.

So far, the Democrats, founded by former president Mohamed Nasheed, are the only political party pushing for a shift to a parliamentary system. Other parties have stated they are happy with the current presidential system.