The Head of State and Chief Executive is the President who is elected every five years by a secret ballot in the Citizens Majlis, the unicameral parliament. The winning candidate needs to be approved in a national referendum before being declared elected.
The President appoints his Cabinet from among the prominent citizens of the country. Many ministers are members of parliament, though it is not mandatory.
Maldives is a member of the United Nations, the British Commonwealth of Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement, the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank, the World Trade Organization and many other international organizations.
The Maldives plays a significant role in the international arena, commensurate with its size and resources. It is one of the founder members of SAARC, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. It is also one of the founder members of South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme since 1983. Maldives hosted the 7th Ministerial Governing Council Meeting of SACEP in 1998 and held the chairmanship of the Governing Council from April 1998 to September 2001. H.E. Mr. Hussein Shihab, the present Permanent Representative to the United Nations was the Director General of SACEP from March 1995 to April 1998. Maldives is also member of the South Asian Seas Programme.