'Overwhelming support for Parliamentary petition'

The team spearheading the campaign to garner signatures for a petition calling to change the Maldives' government system to a parliamentary system has said the campaign is receiving more support than previously anticipated.

The manifesto prepared by main-ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MD) ahead of the 2018 presidential election states that an elected MDP president would bring about constitutional changes that would allow the country's current presidential system to be changed to a parliamentary system. A campaign was recently launched to encourage President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to follow the manifesto and work on bringing about the change.

The campaign is led by Mohamed Nisham Ibrahim, a lawyer by profession. Speaking to AVAS, Nisham said the team targeted to gather signatures for the petition over 90 days. The campaign is receiving a lot of support, and the team will therefore travel to the atolls to collect signatures, said Nisham. If time allows, the team hopes to travel to all inhabited islands in the Maldives, he added.

NIsham said there is an astounding amount of support for the campaign and that over 100,000 signatures are expected.

'We now believe we can carry this petition to a level that will amaze people. A large number of people are signing the petition every day. We are getting many requests from supporters in the atolls so we have decided to travel to atolls betwene Addu and Ha. atoll [to collect signatures],' said Nisham.

Nisham said the team is checking the petition papers to identify any repeated signatures that may be on the list. He also said the 90-day duration to collect signatures may be extended. In addition to supporters in inhabited islands, resort workers are also expressing interest in signing the petition, he added.

MDP Leader and Speaker of the Parliament, Mohamed Nasheed has requested all who support a parliamentary system to sign the petition. Nasheed, who is very vocal about his desire to become Prime Minister under a parliamentary system, has expressed his aspiration to President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. A message sent by Nasheed to President Solih said he wished to discuss changing the government system to a Parliamentary system. In his message, Nasheed said he no longer wished to remain on the sidelines and that he wished to be part of running the country as Prime Minister. He called on the president to dissolve the government and to cancel the 2023 presidential election, and change the system to a parliamentary system through the parliament. Nasheed further said he thought it would be best to bring the change in February 2023, and that the parliament should run the country until the next parliamentary election in 2024.

Despite submitting a petition to the Parliament, a change to the government system can only be brought about through a referendum among the people, the President Solih's Spokesperson, Mohamed Mabrook Azeez has said.