'Parliamentary system vote does not concern the President'

Parliament Speaker and President of the main-ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Mohamed Nasheed has said plans to change the Maldives' government system from a presidential to a parliamentary system do not concern President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih,

Nasheed is running a special campaign under efforts to change the system of government to a parliamentary system. He has moved a special resolution for MDP's upcoming Congress seeking constitutional amendments to change the system of government to a parliamentary system.

However, President Solih has said that he does not support the parliamentary system and does not believe that there is a problem with the current system of government. The President has also called for the withdrawal of the resolution after expressing confidence that it would not be passed at the MDP Congress.

Speaking on the matter, the President said it was more important to solve the problems in the country than to change the system of government. Describing the parliamentary resolution as still being "in its infancy," the President said Nasheed pursued the resolution without consulting those who should have been consulted.

Nasheed responded to the President’s remarks at a meeting held at MDP Haruge on Thursday night to raise awareness on the parliamentary system.

President Nasheed said intelligent leaders do not make their stance known before a referendum is taken among the people and its results become clear. If a leader takes a stand, he said, he would still take a vote to change the system of government someday.

"The President should not be involved in this kind of discussion regarding the government system. It is not about the President nor concerns him at all," Nasheed said.

Nasheed said some say only a few people support a parliamentary system without considering the results of past votes. When the MDP first started its campaign to come to power in 2008, the then government said that only a few people worked for reform, he said. However, the MDP won the election with the majority of votes, he noted. He reiterated that the current government would lose votes in the future if it did not allow for a referendum on the government system change.

Nasheed added that the system of government should be changed to a parliamentary system to overcome the current economic situation faced by the Maldives. Neighboring Sri Lanka is now working towards a full parliamentary system despite its debt, he said.

Nasheed has been pushing for a referendum to determine the people's opinion on changing the system of government. A similar vote was taken in 2007 when the people decided that they preferred a presidential system.