The Civil Court has ruled that the government’s criteria to declare Addu a city are invalid, days before the local council elections are due to take place.
Yesterday evening the decision led the Election Commission to cancel the elections in Addu.
Local newspaper Haveeru reported that Civil Court Judges Aisha Shujoon Mohamed, Hathif Hilmy and Ali Naseer had examined the case, before ruling that the criteria established by the Local Government Authority – consisting solely of Home Minister Hassan Afeef – were invalid. According to court documents cited by Haveeru, this ruling came from a case filed by Hassan Nasir of Annaaru Villa/Addu Atoll Hulhudhoo.
Establishing the criteria required majority of the board, the Court said, as “if a law requires a certain decision to be taken by a particular council or a committee, the decision should be taken by the majority of the council or the committee unless interpreted otherwise.”
Afeef said he was unable to comment as he had not yet seen the Civil Court’s ruling.
The Civil Court first overturned the President’s declaration of Addu as city last month, citing the technicality that the criteria to establish the definition of a city had not been established as required by the Local Government Authority.
That case was filed by the minority opposition party Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), and strong feelings on the subject among Addu citizens in Male’ and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters led to protests outside the house of DQP Leader Hassan Saeed – himself a prominent Adduan.
In response, President Nasheed appointed Afeef to then-empty Local Government Authority – leaving other positions empty – who hastily published city criteria in the government gazette.
The criteria stated that a region would be considered a city if it had a minimum population of 25,000 people and a GDP of no less than Rf 1 billion. The GDP of Addu in 2010 was more than Rf 2 billion, while the population is almost 30,000, according to the Department of National Planning.
The President then declared Addu a city for the second time, even as the Elections Commission (EC) warned that it could be obligated to repeat the voter registration process in Addu, potentially delaying the local council elections in Addu by two weeks. The EC subsequently decided to continue with the election on February 5, on correction of the procedure.
Minivan News sought response from the Attorney General Dr Ahmed Ali Sawad, but had not received any at time of press.