The Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) filed a case with the Election Commission (EC) yesterday, claiming that Male’ Municipality violated political party regulations by using government resources to build decorative Eid columns promoting the ruling party.
The columns, painted with Eid Mubarak (Happy Eid) as well as the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party’s logo of flowers, have been placed along Majeedhee Magu, one of the capital’s busiest shopping districts.
“The party believes that the objects kept on Majeedhee Magu wishing Eid Mubarak by the Male’ Municipality…was in violation of the spirit of the constitution…as it was done using government property to promote a particular party,” reads the DQP letter to the EC.
The party further alleged that the columns were made by the municipality’s road construction section during working hours by municipality employees.
In their letter, the DQP said the actions of senior officials of the municipality to promote the ruling party was “worrying” and contravened section 34 of the political party regulations, which prohibits the use of government property for personal benefit.
“The temple flower is the symbol of the MDP’s presidential candidate and yellow is the colour that symbolises the party. Since this was done to promote MDP in the name of wishing Eid Mubarak and is in violation of section 34 of the political parties regulation, we request that you investigate the matter,” it reads.
Male’ Municipality President “Sarangu” Adam Manik denied the allegations to Minivan News today, claiming the funds for the columns were raised by the Municipality Employees’ Association – a group of employees which carried out community work in Male’.
“They collect contributions from the general public…All institutions like Male’ Municipality have organisations that promote the well-being of staff and support such activities,” said Sarangu, adding that the columns were made with resources and assistance from “well-wishers” such as Vimla Construction.
But DQP said it was unconvinced by the authenticity of the Municipality Employees’ Association, which was unknown to many of the staff at the municipality and, the party claims, was created a week ago with the sole objective of erecting the columns.
An employee at the municipality, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he did not know anyone in the association and had not heard of it until it was mentioned in the news.
On the inclusion of MDP’s logo on the columns, Sarangu said the columns had been built for the government’s one-year anniversary on 11 November, but were not erected due to rain. The columns were then re-used to mark the Eid celebrations, he said.
“Hassan Saeed is playing a very dangerous political game when someone is trying to do something for the betterment of the country,” said Sarangu. “The problem with the opposition is that they don’t know how to be the opposition and now society is getting more and more polarised.”
Although once a member of the coalition government, the DQP went into opposition in October, citing the government’s failure to bring the change promised during last year’s presidential election.
“What Hassan Saeed should do is come over to the ministry and see how I am managing the municipality, how I am cleaning the garbage on the roads, how I am doing community work and try and improve it through criticism or recommendations,” said Sarangu.
Mohamed Tholal, director general of the Elections Commission, said the commission was looking into the complaint but would most likely pass the case over to the Anti-Corruption Commission.