Nasheed withdraws resolution on the parliamentary system

The main-ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)'s President and Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed has withdrawn his resolution to change the system of governance to a parliamentary system.

The parliamentary resolution was submitted to the MDP Congress by Nasheed, seeking constitutional amendments to transition from a presidential to a parliamentary system. The matter was scheduled as the last item on the Congress' agenda, to be debated on Sunday. The resolution was withdrawn at the last minute as the debate was about to begin, when the party's Chairperson and Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail gave the opportunity to Nasheed to present his resolution.

Addressing the Congress, Nasheed said he was hitting the breaks on the efforts to change the governance system at this time. However, he hinted that he would pursue the motion at a later time.

"I think we should leave this resolution as it is.. Let us not debate it. I believe we will be able to find a better way in this matter that is agreeable to all, through discussion with the President and all of you,” Nasheed said.

The withdrawal of the resolution comes after some MDP Congress participants, and senior officials in the MDP leadership expressed their opposition to the resolution. The President and MDP's top leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had also expressed that he did not support the resolution, and had called on Nasheed to withdraw it.

The resolution submitted to the Fourth Congress of the MDP received a cold reception. Nasheed worked to garner support for the resolution until the last minute and promoted the resolution at every opportunity he got to speak in the Congress.

Nasheed has also indicated that it will be difficult for him to contest the upcoming presidential election with MDP if the parliamentary resolution is not passed in the Congress.

The parliamentary system proposed by President Nasheed will have both a president and a prime minister. According to the resolution, the Prime Minister is the head of government while President is the head of state. According to the resolution, the Prime Minister will be appointed by the party that wins more than half of the seats of the Parliament. If no party wins a majority, the government can be formed with the parties that win seats in Parliament. The President shall be elected by popular vote.

The resolution stated that the Prime Minister is empowered to form the Cabinet, but the Prime Minister must seek the advice of the President in appointing the Defense Minister and the Foreign Minister. The powers of the President include the appointment and dismissal of ambassadors, the appointment and dismissal of members of independent institutions, and declaring public holidays.

The motion further proposes to determine the powers of the supreme head of state, the powers and responsibilities of a president when a prime minister runs the government, the representation of constituencies in Parliament, and the policy on inclusion of members on the 'National List' based on the percentage of votes received by political parties. It also proposed that the total number of members of the Parliament should not exceed 87, that the government should be run by a cabinet of ministers from among parliament members, and that the number of judges of the Supreme Court should be five.

Nasheed's resolution also proposes changes to the composition of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and to include the constitutional characteristics of decentralization of administrative areas in the Constitution.