Minister of State for Home Affairs Mohamed Fayaz has told Sun Online that the Police have been asked to take over the Usfasgandu area following the non-compliance of Male’ City Council (MCC) in handing the area over to the Ministry of Housing and Environment.
He is reported as saying that the police have been requested to do this as soon as possible, although discussions are said to be ongoing.
The raised area behind the Dharubaaruge convention centre is currently being used as the base for the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) protests. Most recently, weekly marches around Male’ originate and terminate at Usfasgandu.
The jurisdiction of the area has been under question for weeks, with the Housing Ministry first making clear its intentions to claim the area April 9. The ministry informed the MCC by letter that it had three days to remove the MDP from the area.
The Ministry argues that leasing the area to a group for political purposes contravenes the deregulation act under which the land was granted to the MCC.
In a precursor to this issue, the previous area at Lonuziyaaraiy Kolhu used for the staging of the MDP’s operations, dubbed ‘Justice Square’, was dismantled by police and the MNDF on March 19. The subsequent court case was dismissed on a technicality and, after being re-submitted, has recently been delayed once again following for a similar reason.
The MCC has remained defiant, last week writing to the Police, the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) and the Housing Ministry, arguing that the area was fulfilling a pressing need for large numbers of people to conduct political activities without inconveniencing residents of Male’ City. It also dismissed the legal right of the government to claim the area.
Just last week Sun reported the police’s denial that they would take over the area, following rumours that their arrival was imminent.
The Housing Ministry has also recently removed Sultan Park and the artificial beach area from the council’s jurisdiction.
“Maldives Police Service believes that such SMS’s can create fear in the society; there is no truth in the stories being spread that the Police are planning to take over Usfasgandu. Police are not making any preparation in this regard,” Sub-inspector Hassan Haneef told Sun.