The Maldives is a unitary, sovereign, independent democratic republic based on the principles of Islam.
On March 19, 1931, Sultan Muhammad Shamsuddeen appointed a Council in order to draft the first Constitution of the Maldives, which was proclaimed and implemented on December 22, 1932.
In 1952, the Maldives became a republic upon affirmation by a referendum and the Constitution was changed to a republican Constitution.
However, due to a change brought to the governing of the State, the monarchy was restored on March 7, 1954, and the Constitution of the Maldives was once again revised.
In 1968, a new referendum was held during the reign of Muhammad Fareed, and for the second time a republican form of government was adopted by the Maldives on November 11, 1968.
During the first year of the presidency of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, on December 31, 1978, the People’s Majlis passed a Bill providing for the amendment of the Constitution.
The President convened the People’s Majlis on November 29, 1980 and charged the Special Majlis with the responsibility of amending the Constitution.
The Constitution, which was adopted by the Special Majlis and amended as deemed necessary, was assented to by President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on November 27, 1997. The amended Constitution came into force on January 1, 1998.
Constitutional provisions regarding the basic rights of the people are broadly phrased. They refer to freedom of speech and assembly, equality before the law, and the right to own property, but these rights are to be exercised within the framework of the sharia.
The president is elected for a renewable five-year term by the Majlis, or legislature. The election must be formalised through confirmation in a popular referendum.
The chief executive is assisted by a cabinet, or Council of Ministers, whose members serve at his pleasure.
The post of prime minister, which had existed under the sultan and in the early years of the republic, was eliminated in 1975 by President Ibrahim Nasir because of abuses of the office.
Cabinet ministers need not be members of the Majlis. The legislature is unicameral, with members elected for five-year terms by citizens aged twenty-one and above, or appointed by the president.
Eight of its forty-eight members are appointed by the president, and the rest are chosen popularly, two from Male and two from each of the nineteen administrative atolls.