Speaker: Parliament can directly ask EC for referendum

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

Parliament speaker, former president Mohamed Nasheed says 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.

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

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

On Tuesday, Nasheed said he would continue the parliamentary sitting until the work on the resolution is done, and the decision of the Parliament is shared with the EC.

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.

“The president has no role in this,” he said.

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

Former presidents Nasheed and Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom had advocated for a parliamentary system, back when the vote was held.

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.