President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Tuesday ratified the amendment to Article 231 of the Constitution of Maldives, to extend the terms of the presently elected local councils.
The government-sponsored bill was lobbied last month as the Local Council Elections, which were originally slated for April 14, were postponed indefinitely due to the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis. The terms of the presently elected councils will expire on June 3, Wednesday.
As per the newly ratified amendment, a clause has been added to Article 231 extending the incumbent council terms until new councillors can be elected.
However, the amendment stipulates that the parliament must approve a special set of laws regarding the powers accorded to councils during the extended period. The bill further states that councillors will not be accorded all the powers stated under the Decentralisation Act during this interim period.
In addition to the Article 231 amendment, President Solih also ratified the legislation to delineate the powers of council members who remain in office during the interim period, thus allowing the continued functioning of decentralised government until such a time the local elections can be held.
The bill, along with the special laws, were approved by the parliament in the early hours of Tuesday, with a majority of 74 votes.
Constitutional amendments require the majority vote of three-fourths or 66 votes of the parliament. The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presently holds a supermajority of 65 seats. The party had issued a three-line whip prior to the vote to approve the bill.