Mohamed Nasheed, the former president and a current parliamentarian for Mahchangolhi Central, has sparked debate and criticism for maintaining his parliamentary seat while living abroad and holding an international position.

Nasheed, who also assumed the role of Secretary-General for the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), has been absent from parliamentary sittings for an extended period, raising questions about the compatibility of his dual roles with Maldivian constitutional mandates.

Despite relocating to Ghana on 30 January to fulfill his duties with the CVF, Nasheed has continued to receive his parliamentary salary, a situation that has not gone unnoticed by the public and his political contemporaries. 

His decision to live abroad while retaining his parliamentary position is unprecedented in the context of Maldivian politics, especially given his history as a prominent figure in the country’s democratic movements.

The situation is compounded by Nasheed’s own party, The Democrats, which has recently criticised other parliamentarians for failing to attend sittings while on the payroll. This stance seems at odds with Nasheed’s current actions, as he remains an active member of parliament without participating in legislative duties. The party’s leader Hassan Latheef has defended Nasheed’s absence as a personal matter, stating that it does not necessitate further inquiry or concern from the party.

The Constitution prohibits MPs from holding any other public office, a stipulation that does not explicitly extend to roles in foreign organisations or countries. This loophole appears to provide Nasheed with a legal, albeit controversial, basis for his concurrent positions. 

Nevertheless, the ethical implications of such an arrangement have not escaped scrutiny. Critics argue that Nasheed’s continued absence from parliamentary sessions, coupled with his active engagement in international climate advocacy, undermines the responsibilities entrusted to him by the electorate.

Nasheed’s unique case presents a conundrum for the interpretation of the Maldivian Constitution and raises broader questions about the obligations of elected officials to their constituents versus their personal or global commitments. 

As Nasheed continues to critique Maldivian politics from afar, the juxtaposition of his actions against his political critiques draws attention to the challenges of balancing national duties with international roles.