Lawyers voted on Saturday to elect the first ever Maldives Bar Council, setting up a historic self-regulatory framework for the legal profession in the country.
Maumoon Hameed beat former attorney general Husnu Suood by 142 votes to become the president. Former attorney general Abdulla Muizz was elected vice president in a landslide after competing against a former judge.
The Bar Council, created under the Legal Profession Act, regulates the work of lawyers. Enacted in June, the law transferred regulatory powers from the judiciary to the newly formed independent institution.
The Attorney General’s office and the defunct justice ministry previously regulated the legal profession. More recently, the role was taken over by the Supreme Court, which issued attorney licences.
Six executive committee members for the Bar Council were also elected in Saturday’s election.
According to the provisional results published by the Elections Commission, the incoming members are former prosecutor general Ahmed Muizz, former MP Anara Naeem, former judge Aisha Shujoon, Maldivian Democratic Party secretary general Anas Abdul Sattar, lawyers Mohamed Faisal and Mohamed Aseel Hassan.
Polling took place in the capital Malé and the southernmost city of Addu. Some 955 lawyers out of 1488 eligible voters voted in the election.
On Sunday, the EC announced that the ballots for the executive committee will be recounted after a candidate who lost by a margin of one vote asked for a recount. The recount was ongoing at the time of publication.
The electoral commission expects official results to be announced shortly.
According to the Legal Profession Act, all Bar Council members will serve a three-year term. The president of the council is allowed to serve one term, while other members are allowed to compete for a maximum number of two terms, consecutive or otherwise.
The Bar Council will be the first fully independent institution with members working on a voluntary basis. The attorney general will also sit on the council by virtue of his office.