Maldivian president open to hold referendum for changing governance system

Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohammed Solih is open to holding a referendum, if the majority of people want, for changing the governance system from the existing presidential to the parliamentary system

Aug 24, 2021
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Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohammed Solih

Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohammed Solih is open to holding a referendum, if the majority of people want, for changing the governance system from the existing presidential to the parliamentary system. This comes after the ruling party, under former president Mohammed Nashid, began a petition seeking a vote on adopting the parliamentary system. 

Addressing a press conference on Monday, Mabrook Azeez, Solih’s spokesperson has said that Solih believed that the system should be changed only through the vote of people and he would not interfere if the majority of people want a change. 

The Maldives, in 2007, had held a referendum on the style of governance where the majority of people, almost 60 percent, voted for the presidential system. However, Nasheed, who is currently the speaker of Parliament, had recently raised the demand of changing the governance system to parliamentary. 

Ties between Solih and Nasheed--both of them come from the same ruling party, the MDP--   deteriorated over the last few months and the latter even went on to extent of disassociating himself from the former.  

Mabrook said that necessary steps will be taken once the petition currently being signed is presented to the President’s Office. However, the president’s stance and the fact that he is prioritizing fulfilling his pledges is very clearly to be seen, added Mabrook 

The MDP recently started a petition, which was also signed by some members of opposition parties, to seek a referendum on changing the existing system. The aim is to get around 100,000 signatures. 

Initially, Solih had indirectly rejected the demand, saying the existing system was what people had voted for. Former president Abdul Gayoom, who had ruled the country for 30 years from 1978 to 2008,  had also supported the existing system. However, as the campaign gained momentum, Solih appears to have softened his position. 

Former President Abdullah Yameen, who is currently serving a jail sentence in a corruption case, had rejected the demand of changing the system. His party, the PPM, said he favored the existing presidential system. 

(SAM)