Vice Chief of the Elections Commission (EC), Ismail Habeeb, has said that there is a lot of work to be done to raise awareness among the public before conducting a referendum to determine the system of government in the Maldives. He added that it is not feasible to hold such a referendum at this time.
Hulhudhoo MP Ilyas Labeeb submitted a motion to the parliament to conduct a referendum on the system of government before October 30. The parliament passed this motion, with the support of MPs representing the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) today.
Ismail Habeeb tweeted regarding this matter noting that a minimum of 30 to 45 days would be required to prepare for such a referendum, and that the estimated cost of such an effort would be around MVR 40 million.
Habeeb said that the most important aspect of conducting a referendum like this is to ensure that the public is well-informed about the purpose and significance of such a vote.
"When we ask people to vote in favor of a specific system, it is important to educate them about the advantages and disadvantages of that system, and it is a legal obligation of the EC to ensure this awareness. Therefore, conducting a referendum at this moment is not feasible," Habeeb said.
The Maldives adopted a Presidential System of government before finalizing the current constitution. This was done after a referendum to determine a system of government preferred by the people. This referendum was held on August 18, 2007 with 62 percent of the 149,380 people who participated in the referendum voted in favor of the presidential system.
There was a one month campaign before the referendum which was held during the time of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who campaigned in support of the presidential system. The opposition at that time, headed by the current Speaker of Parliament President Mohamed Nasheed from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) campaigned for a Parliamentary system.