The People’s Majlis has passed to seek the Supreme Court’s counsel regarding the constitutional amendment required to extend councilor’s terms.
The vote was taken during a sitting held on Wednesday night. 61 MPs voted in favour while one voted against. There were no abstentions. 32 votes were required to pass the motion.
Two other votes were taken during the sitting. While the second was on whether the Majlis will accept the government sponsored amendment bill, all 60 MPs that took part voted in favour. Following this, a third vote was taken to send the amendment bill to the committee of the whole house for further review. 61 voted in favour, there were no votes against or abstentions.
The government sponsored bill was proposed by Bilehdhoo constituency MP Ahmed Haleem, and seeks to prolong the terms of existing councilors until the local council elections can be held. The elections had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 crisis.
The councilors terms can only be extended after amending the constitution, as Article 231 (c) states that the ‘terms of councils elected to administer the constituencies shall not exceed three years.’ The terms of existing councilors will expire on June 3.
While a number of MPs spoke against the amendment, parliament’s Counselor-General Fathmath Filza as well as Attorney General Ibrahim Riffath have both stated that the terms of councilors can only be extended after amending the constitution.
Those who spoke against the amendment, including a number of main ruling party MPs, noted that it is not the most appropriate to do so given the state of public health emergency declared across the country.
Hence, the speaker decided to seek the top court's counsel in the matter.
The Local Council Elections were to be held on April 4, but voting was delayed indefinitely as the country's Covid-19 situation worsened.