The constitution of the Republic of Maldives that came into force in 1968 (and amended in 1970, 1972, and 1975) was repealed and replaced by a new constitution in 1997. It came into force on 1 January 1998. The Citizens' Majlis (parliament) nominates a single candidate for the presidency, who is confirmed in office thereafter by popular referendum. The president heads the executive branch and appoints the cabinet and is constitutionally permitted to have as many vice presidents as he desires. The president serves a five-year term of office. Presidential elections must be held by October 2003.
The unicameral Majlis is a body of 50 members, 42 of whom are directly elected (2 from each of the 20 inhabited atolls and 2 from the capital island of Malé) by universal suffrage of citizens over 21. Eight members are appointed by the president. Members serve five-year terms. The Majlis drafts legislation that becomes law after ratification by the president. The Majlis also nominates the president by secret ballot. The candidate is then approved by referendum of the population.
Elections to the Majlis are held individually and do not necessarily coincide with its sessions. Elections were held in December 1994 and December 1999. They are next due to be held in November 2004.