Government fails to amend decentralisation bill

The parliament yesterday voted to dismiss amendments to the decentralisation bill proposed by the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Out of the 69 MPs present, 37 MPs voted against the amendments while 32 voted to continue the bill. One MP abstained.

The controversial bill has seen protests outside parliament and mass-walkouts by MPs. As a result of yesterday’s vote, the DRP’s key sticking point on the issue, the concept of provinces, has been defeated.

DRP MP Ahmed Nihan has previously told Minivan News that while the DRP has never been against decentralisation, as the Constitution states the country should be run by a decentralised government – “it is unconstitutional” to divide the country into seven provinces and not the stipulated 21 regions.

MDP MP Hamid Abdul Gafoor, who presented the bill on behalf of the government, said the party’s objective had been to amend some articles in the decentralisation bill.

”There are some articles in (the recently approved) bill that alienates the islands both socially and economically,” said Gafoor.

Gafoor said MDP proposed the amendments in a bid to make the country economically sustainable.

”When all the powers of the executive are taken by the parliament, the pace of reform slows,” Gafoor said. ”There are many cunning articles included in the decentralisation bill added by the opposition.”

However, DRP MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom said that the government proposed the amendment to the bill to gain more influence by narrowing the power of the people.

”I would not say it was a bill of amendment, it was more a bill that was proposed to reverse the bill previously approved,” said Mausoom. ”The government just want to promote their dictatorship,” he added.

”Local governance is about letting people make their decisions on their own for themselves,” he suggested.