EC President Fuad Thaufeeg speaks at the first meeting of the National Advisory Committee of the Election Commission held on March 19 this year.

EC to announce system referendum rules in 2 days

The commission is also empowered to make further regulations under the Act if necessary.

23 September 2023

By Fathmath Ahmed Shareef

The Elections Commission (EC) on Saturday said it is in the process of framing a regulation on public referendums as the general election law does not specify how to deal with it, and that the regulations will be gazetted in two days.

Parliament on Thursday sent to the Elections Commission a resolution passed at Wednesday's sitting seeking a referendum on the system of governance in Maldives by October 30.

The Elections Commission (EC) has since requested the parliament to determine and provide the question to be asked of the people in the public referendum seeking views on changing the country's governance system.

At a press conference on Saturday, the commission’s vice-chairman Ismail Habeeb said that although the proposed referendum deals with changing the system of governance from presidential to parliamentary, the law did not specify how to proceed. Therefore, a regulation is being drafted under the legal powers given to the commission to specify the rules and regulations to be followed when voting, he said.

Habeeb said it was the responsibility of the EC to conduct the referendum. There should be a regulation explaining the rules of the commission when taking such a vote, he added.

Habeeb said the first draft of the regulations is now complete.

Section 32 of the Elections Commission Act states that the commission shall make and administer the rules to be made under the Act. The commission is also empowered to make further regulations under the Act if necessary.

The Democrats, led by speaker Mohamed Nasheed who has always advocated for a parliamentary system, submitted the resolution to the parliament seeking a referendum before October 30 on the choice of governance system.

The resolution, which called for the parliament to directly ask the Elections Commission to hold the referendum, was passed with MDP's backing as well. 

Although the resolution mandated the parliament to ask the Elections Commission to hold the referendum, President Ibrahim Mohammed Solih believes:

  • Referendum on governance system can be taken only after the parliament passes a motion by a three-fourth majority or with the backing of 66 out of the 87 MPs, sends motion to him, following which he can request the Elections Commission to hold a referendum 

  • If the resolution is passed by the parliament and sent to him, he will request the Elections Commission to take the vote before October 30, as per Ilyas's resolution, before the presidential runoff