The First Constitution
and Maldives Republic
A written constitution did not exist
in Maldives till 1932 and the customs
and traditions along with Islamic Shariah
formed the Law. The sultans usually consulted
a group of advisors or bodun who included
his ministers and the Fandiyaaru or Chief
Justice. The Islamic scholars usually
exercised much influence in the government
affairs but quite often they were replaced
when the Kings were at odds with them.
Maldives - most
of the residents live in small islands
The hereditary system continued to exist
but in many occasions the helm of power
shifted from one family to the other following
internal uprisings and the demise of kings.
A constitution was introduced in 1932
after the emergence of a new educated
elite. The new constitution, which provided
for a People's Assembly of 47 members,
did not survive long. It was literally
torn apart by the public and the reigning
Sultan Mohammed Shamsudheen 3rd was dethroned
shortly thereafter in 1934. The Sultan
was believed to have used exceeded his
legal powers. A new constitution was formed
In 1948 the existing agreement between
the Maldives and the British were renewed.
In 1953 the Maldives changed from a monarchy
to a Republic. Mr Mohammed Amin Didi was
the first President of the Maldives. He
was a popular politician who had won a
referendum held to determine the type
of government that the Maldives should
have. However, the Republic was short-lived.
After a mere eight months Amin Didi was
overthrown and a Sultanate was formed
once again. The people were outraged because
of the prevailing food shortages and the
total ban of tobacco by Amin Didi. The
Second World War caused famine that continued
even in the early 1950s. Against this
backdrop it was quite easy to manipulate
and mobilise the ignorant masses for political
ends by Amin Didi's rivals.
Since the failure of the First Republic,
the Maldives was a Sultanate until 1968.
The intervening period saw the rule of
only one king. Sultan Mohammed Fareedh
was to be the last monarch of the Maldives.
During the Second World War, British
built a military base in Gan of Addu Atoll
and Kelaa of Thiladhunmathi Atoll. They
evacuated the bases soon after the war.
However, British interest in the Maldives
revived during the late 1950s. The British
were successful to conclude an agreement
with the Prime Minister Ibrahim Ali Didi
for the lease of Gan in Addu for 100 years.
This agreement signed in 1956 provided
Gan, located in the southern tip of the
Maldives, as an airfield for the British.
It also included the provision of a part
of Hithadhoo in Addu Atoll as a radio
communication centre for the British.
The agreement was heavily criticised
in the Maldives, and led to the resignation
of the Prime Minister. He was succeeded
by Mr Ibrahim Nasir who sought to solve
the problem regarded by the Maldivians
as an issue endangering the territorial
integrity and sovereignty of the Maldives.
However, the government of Mr Nasir was
to face more serious problems that threatened
the integrity of the country.