The Elections Commission (EC) has confirmed that it has received parliamentary notice directing to hold a consultative referendum on the change of system of governance on 30 October. The commission received the resolution passed by parliament on Wednesday, the electoral body said.

“In this regard, the Elections Commission is now seeking legal advice on how to proceed,” the EC said in a social media post.

The commission’s vice-president Ismail Habeeb, speaking to local media, said that the commission would seek legal advice on the resolution in before discussions among members.

“We will share any information we get from the parliamentary secretariat,” Habib said.

While the election is expected to take at least 30 – 45 days to organise, at an estimated cost of MVR 40 million, the most important action would be to educate voters on the aspects of the vote, the commission said.

The Maldives has already once, in 2007, held a governance referendum on whether the country should move forward with a presidential system or a parliamentary system. The then president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom had supported a presidential system with Mohamed Nasheed, at that time leading the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), pushing for a parliamentary system. Over 60 percent of the public had supported a presidential system of governance and, even as MDP alleged that the referendum was rigged, this was written into law under the 2008 constitution.