Opposition leader Fayyaz Ismail has ignited debate over proposed amendments to the Constitution and governance system, insisting that any alterations must be subject to public opinion. Acknowledging the need for change, the chairperson of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) underscored this stance, asserting that public input is essential before implementing reforms.

His comments on X came in response to President Mohamed Muizzu’s recent announcement regarding governance adjustments. President Muizzu unveiled plans during a rally organised by the ruling People’s National Congress (PNC), including proposing a constitutional amendment that would limit the number of lawmakers to 77, amending laws to reduce the local council members, and modifying the Constitution to hold presidential and parliamentary elections simultaneously.

These legislative amendments are part of the government’s cost-cutting measures, according to President Muizzu. However, critics like Ismail argue that the changes lack transparency and public consultation.

Ismail, who previously served as Economic Minister, questioned the sincerity of the Muizzu administration’s proposed reforms. He urged immediate action to address costs without resorting to empty rhetoric.

The Finance Minister’s optimistic economic outlook clashes with the reality citizens face, said Ismail, warning that framing necessary reforms as a “bitter pill” could erode investor, public, and financier confidence. Calling on the Muizzu administration for transparency, he demanded that the Muizzu administration disclose funding mechanisms for businesses and Maldivian students abroad. Ismail also challenged the secrecy surrounding political appointments, stressing that the public deserves clarity.

“Disclosing this information is not difficult,” Ismail asserted. “The government should already have it. If not, that’s a more concerning issue.”

Urging the government to reconsider the Constitution amendment, Ismail, in a televised interview, advocated for mid-term elections rather than simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections. His argument centres on accountability.

He contends that merging the presidential and parliamentary elections would dilute the people’s power to hold the government responsible. Instead, he proposes a more strategic approach: concurrently holding the presidential and local council elections.

“Joining the two elections, while parliament remains a separate power, is not advisable,” Ismail asserted. “When the parliamentary election follows the presidential election, citizens have a better chance of scrutinising the winners and ensuring accountability.”

The MDP chairperson also accused Muizzu of spreading misinformation during his presidential campaign. As the truth emerges, the public grapples with the administration’s intentions and credibility, he said.

If the Muizzu administration proposes both sound and effective changes backed by public consensus, the MDP will lend its support, he added.