The Elections Commission’s (EC) statements in the People’s Majlis Budget Committee on promoting public awareness before a public vote on altering the country’s governing structure sparked outrage from Majlis Member for Dhaandhoo Yaugoob Abdulla.
In a committee meeting on Sunday, EC Vice-Chairman Ismail Habeeb stated that money have not been provided in the projected budget for 2022 to enhance public awareness about elections, although an election may take place before the presidential election in 2023.
According to Habeeb, the commission has planned awareness activities for next year in three cities and seven atolls that would cost more than MVR 800,000.
Following his remarks regarding an election taking place before the presidential election, Member Yaugoob inquired as to the nature of the election.
Habeeb responded by saying that a public referendum is probable based on the manner the news about changing the governing structure is emerging. He said that sufficient public awareness activities were not carried out during the previous public referendum in 2007.
According to Habeeb, the Elections Commission did not offer adequate information about the 2007 public referendum, and proper information should be supplied this time if a similar referendum is held.
“Under the Elections Commission legislation, the commission is required to offer information on what is a presidential system and what is a parliamentary system, as well as the benefits of each system and other pertinent information,” he stated.
But Yaugoob said that no political party or official agency has chosen to call a public vote on changing the governing structure. He remarked that he does not feel that an institution should plan and set aside money simply because it is being discussed.
Former President and People’s Majlis Speaker Mohamed Nasheed is primarily responsible for the effort on revamping the country’s governing system. He had met with numerous party officials in recent days as part of it, but without much success.