The Elections Commission (EC) has formally appealed to parliament for clarifications on the proposed constitutional referendum to determine the country’s system of governance. The commission’s appeal comes in the wake of a resolution passed by parliament requesting that a referendum on the system of governance be held before 30 October.

EC’s Vice Chairperson Ismail Habeeb announced that the commission has sought legal counsel and needs further clarification from parliament to proceed with the referendum. While he refrained from detailing the matters that require clarification, the EC emphasised that it has certain legal obligations to fulfil, such as voter re-registration and the handling of complaints related to voter lists.

The resolution for the constitutional referendum was initially submitted by Hulhudhoo MP Ilyas Labeeb, a member of The Democrats, on 12 September. While the original resolution called for a deadline of 30 November for the referendum, Labeeb later amended it to 30 October. The resolution was passed unanimously by 35 MPs, including some from the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

While President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih believes that a referendum can only be initiated following a motion passed by a three-fourth majority in parliament and after receiving his request, Article 70 of the constitution grants the parliament the authority to decide on holding referendums on significant matters.

The General Elections Act mandates that the EC must have between 30 to 45 days to hold an election. Given the tight schedule, it remains uncertain how the EC will manage to organise the referendum alongside the presidential runoff election slated for the end of the month.