Nasheed vows switch to parliamentary system, extend pres term

Self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed on Friday announced plans to instill a unity government after winning the presidential elections in September, switch from a presidential system to a parliamentary one and extend the term of the new government to six years.

Nasheed lives in self imposed exile most recently in Sri Lanka after he was allowed to leave to the UK on medical leave in an internationally brokered deal following his jailing on terrorism charges.

The main opposition leaders including former presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Nasheed along with Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim and religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla inked pact to form what they called a 'reform alliance'.

With the candidacy of the four leaders - all convicted and serving sentences on questionable charges in serious doubt, the united opposition had announced plans to nominate a single candidate for the upcoming presidential elections.

Nasheed's 13 year prison sentence definitely rules him out of the elections in September. But the ex-president has announced his intention to contest the MDP primary on May 30.

Speaking during a rally held in the southernmost Atoll Addu to launch his primary campaign, Nasheed in a video message said the people voted for a presidential system in 2007 to ensure separation of powers and greater accountability.

Nasheed said based on the results of the past seven elections in the Maldives showed the dire need for major constitutional amendments for a new governance system.

He added that the new unity government would function in transition but would have an extended term.

"In the first one and a half years of the six year government, we would work to give transitional justice for the many languishing unjustly in prison. Next we will work to reform the judiciary, strengthen the security forces and ensure freedom for independent institutions," Nasheed explained.

Nasheed reiterated that history shows that a presidential governance system does not work in the Maldives which has intensified the need for the new government to amend the constitution.