The Maldivian parliament, the Majilis or Citizens' Council, has 48 members. Male', which is the capital island, and each of the atolls have two representatives each, elected for five-year terms. All citizens over 21 years of age can vote. The president chooses the remaining eight parliamentary representatives, has the power to appoint or dismiss cabinet ministries and appoint all judges who administer justice under the broad tenets of Islam.
The Majlis considers candidates for the presidency for each five-year term, and makes nominations, which is put forward, so the vote is not so much an election as a national referendum - a strong vote of support for the president is seen as a show of loyalty to religious authorities, local political leaders and the country as a whole. In recent votes, the current president Mr. Gayoom has always received 90% support.
Local government of the 19 administrative atolls is in the hands of each atolhuverin, or atoll chief. The gazi is religious head of the atoll and joins the atoll chief in deciding legal matters. Each island also has its own chief, or kateeb, who is appointed by the atoll chief consultation with the Ministry of Atolls Administration.
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