Politics of the Maldives
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The politics of the Maldives takes place in the framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President is the Head of Government. Executive power is exercised by the government. The President heads the executive branch and appoints the Cabinet; Like many presidential democracies, each member of the cabinet need to be approved by the Parliament. The President, along with the Vice President, is directly elected by the people to a five-year term by a secret ballot. He could be re-elected to second 5-year term, the limit allowed by the Constitution. The current President of the Maldives was Baghi Waheed who was sworn into office on February 7, 2012 when his predecessor, Mohamed Nasheed resigned following weeks of protests led by police. Nasheed reportedly resigned involuntarily to forestall an escalation of violence, and was placed under house arrest.
The unicameral Majlis of the Maldives is composed of 77 members serving a five-year term. The total number of the members representing each constituency depends on the total population of that constituency. The last parliamentary election under the new constitution was held on May 9, 2009. A total of 465 candidates - 211 from 11 political parties and 254 independents - were vying for seats in the People's Majlis. The 2009 elections were the first multi-party elections in the country. During the election, 78.87% of the 209,000 registered voters turned out at the polls. The final results gave the DRP and the PA 28 and seven seats respectively, three short of a parliamentary majority. The MDP became the second largest party, winning 26 seats. The Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) and the Republican Party (RP) took two seats and one seat respectively. The remaining 13 seats went to independent candidates. The Commonwealth observers who monitored the elections said that they were "well-conducted". The newly elected People's Majlis held its first session on 28 May and elected Mr. Abdulla Shahid (DRP) as its new Speaker.
The Maldivian legal system is derived mainly from the traditional Islamic law. There is a Supreme Court with 5 judges including the Chief Justice.The Chief Justice is appointed by the President, with the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission. Parliament is required to approve the appointment before he assumes office. There is a Supreme Court, High Court (Two branches), a Criminal Court, Civil Court, Family Court, Juvenile Court, Drug Court and many Lower Courts in each Atoll/Island. An Attorney General is part of the Cabinet and also needs the approval of Parliament before taking office.
Under the new constitution, the function of Local Government is devolved to an Atoll Council to administer each atoll and an Island Council to administer each inhabited island. Island councilors are elected by the people of each island, and the Atoll Councilors are in turn elected by the Island Councilors.
A 1968 referendum approved a constitution making Maldives a republic with executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. The constitution was amended in 1970, 1972, 1975, and 1997 and again in 2008
Ibrahim Nasir, Prime Minister under the pre-1968 sultanate, became President and held office from 1968 to 1978. He was succeeded by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who was elected President in 1978 and re-elected in 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, and 2003. At the end of his presidency, he was the longest serving leader in Asia.
Since 2003, following the death in custody of a prisoner, Naseem, the Maldives experienced several anti-government demonstrations calling for political reforms, more freedoms, and an end to torture and oppression. As a result of these activities, political parties were eventually allowed in June 2005. The main parties registered in Maldives are: the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), the Dhivehi Raiyyithunge Party (DRP), the Islamic Democratic Party (IDP) and the Adhaalath Party, also known as the Adhaalath Party. The first party to register was the MDP headed by popular opposition figures such as Mohamed Nasheed (Anni) and Mohamed Latheef (Gogo). The next was the Dhivehi Raiyyithunge Party (DRP) headed by then-President Gayoom.
The Maldives have scored poorly on some indices of freedom. The "Freedom in the World" index, a measure of political rights and civil liberties published by Freedom House, judged Maldives as "not free" until May 1, 2009, when it was raised to "partly free". The "Worldwide Press Freedom Index", published by Reporters Without Borders, lists Maldives as a "very serious situation" (a judgment also given to Libya, Cuba, and China).
The Majlis of the Maldives (assembly) has 85 members elected by the people.
Political parties and elections
On a national level, Maldives elects a head of state - the president - and a legislature. The president is elected for a five-year term by parliament and confirmed in a referendum by the people. In this referendum on 17 October 2003, 90.3% voted in favour of then president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (turnout 77%). At the last parliamentary elections, 22 January 2005, only non-partisans have been elected. Until 2005 (after the election), no legal parties existed. Out of the 42 elected parliamentaries, according to Adam Carr, 20 (32.3% of popular vote) support the government and 18 (31.1% of popular vote) are endorsed by the Maldivian Democratic Party.
|Non-partisans supporting the government||28|
|Non-partisans endorsed by the Maldivian Democratic Party||10|
|Source: Adam Carr|
The Maldivian parliament voted unanimously for the creation of a multiparty system on June 2, 2005. Prior to June 2005, the Maldivian political system was based on the election of individuals, rather than the more common system of election according to party platform. In June 2005, as part of an ongoing programme of democratic reform, new regulations were promulgated to formally recognised political parties within the framework of the electoral system. The Maldivian Democratic Party was already active. New parties include the Progressive Party of Maldives, Maldivian Peoples Party, the Islamic Democratic Party and the Adhaalath Party.
20 atolls (atholhu, singular and plural) and one first-order administrative city*;Alif Alif, Alif Dhaal, Baa, Dhaalu, Faafu, Gaafu Alifu, Gaafu Dhaalu, Gnaviyani, Haa Alifu, Haa Dhaalu, Laamu, Lhaviyani, Kaafu, Meemu, Noonu, Raa, Seenu, Shaviyani, Thaa, Vaavu
International organization participation
AsDB, C, CCC, CP, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, International Monetary Fund, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OIC, OPCW, SAARC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, World Health Organization, WIPO, WMO, WTO
- "Maldives' VP Hassan Takes Oath as President". Male, Maldives: Time Magazine. Associated Press. February 7, 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- Mark Magnier (7 February 2012). "Maldives president resigns after weeks of protest". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- "Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed resigns amid unrest". BBC News. 7 February 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- "Maldives adopt new constitution", BBC, August 7, 2008
- "Maldives begin historic election", BBC, October 8, 2008
- Freedom House (2009). "Country Report (Maldives-2009)". Freedom in the World. Freedom House. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
- CNN (1 May 2009). "Freedom of the media declines worldwide, report says". CNN. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
- Amnesty International reports on the Maldives
- Freedom of expression in the Maldives - IFEX
- Penn Law School Students Help Draft a Criminal Code for the Maldives, from the University of Pennsylvania website
- Maldives Holds Cabinet Meeting Underwater to Highlight Danger of Global Warming - video report by Democracy Now!