The Maldives is a unitary, sovereign, independent democratic republic based on the principles of Islam. The evolution and development of the system of government and administration in the Maldives shows long standing, unwritten constitutional principles accepted by the people.
The governance of the Maldives was, for the first time, subjected to a set of written laws during the reign of Sultan Muhammad Shamsuddeen. On 19 March 1931 a Council was appointed and entrusted with the mandate of drafting the first Constitution of the Maldives. The Constitution that was formulated by the Council was proclaimed and implemented on 22 December 1932. The rights of the citizens, equality and justice and the rights of the people to live in peace and security was for the first time enshrined in the Constitution. The Constitution also articulated administrative reforms towards improving the life of the people.
Several amendments were subsequently brought to the first Constitution. The Constitution was, however, repealed on 31 January 1940 on finding that it was unsuitable to the circumstances that prevailed in the country at the time. A new Constitution was formulated and implemented on 23 April 1942. 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 7 March 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 11 November 1968. The Constitution of the Maldives has since then been in use and has been thrice amended as provided therein.
During the first year of the Presidency of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, on 31 December 1978, the People’s Majlis passed a Bill providing for the amendment of the Constitution.
The President convened the People’s Majlis on 29 November 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 27 November 1997. The amended Constitution came into force on 1 January 1998.
The Constitution of the Maldives