Additional reporting by Ahmed Naish.
The government has confirmed today it has requested the Local Government Authority (LGA) to dissolve Male’ City Council (MCC) – an elected body predominantly represented by opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members.
The MCC has been involved in a number of disputes with the government during 2012 following February’s controversial transfer of power – most recently over the issue of funding and utility bill payments.
President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad confirmed to Minivan News today that any decision to dissolve the MCC would be made legally through a request to the LGA, which is presently chaired by the Home Minister.
“What I know is that we are getting complaints about [the council’s] inefficiency,” he said.
Masood was unable to comment further on the matter at time of press, forwarding inquiries to Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.
Dr Jameel was not responding to calls from Minivan News at the time of press.
However, Councillor Mohamed Abdul Kareem told Minivan News that the MCC had been informed that the LGA had been sent a request from the government to dissolve the council.
Of the eleven councillors of the capital, nine were elected on MDP tickets.
Kareem observed that article 66(a) of the Decentralisation Act grants the LGA authority to submit a case to the High Court requesting the dissolution, but believed no such motion had been filed at time of press.
“As far as I know, such a case has not been sent to the court,” he said
Kareem added that should the dissolution matter proceed, lawyers for the MCC were to appeal against any such motion, taking the case to the Supreme Court if it was unsuccessful during the High Court case.
Three grounds for dissolving councils are specified in article 66(a) for which a case could be submitted to the High Court.
These include repeatedly failing to carry out the functions and responsibilities of the council; misusing the council’s resources or facilities; and failing to carry out duties due to repeated failure to hold meetings.
Article 66(b) meanwhile states that the court must only grant the LGA request “if the court believes that there is no other way but dissolving the council.”
In the event that the High Court approves dissolving the council, fresh elections must be held within 45 days. The LGA would appoint caretakers in the interim to manage council affairs.
LGA member Ahmed Faisal told newspaper Haveeru today that the Home Ministry requested the MCC be dissolved following deliberations by the cabinet.
“We have received a letter signed by the Home Minister. But we have not tabled the issue in the agenda yet. And I don’t even believe that the Home Minister could order a council to be dissolved like that. Because there are a lot of things the LGA has to complete before that,” Faisal was quoted as saying.
Faisal accused Home Minister Jameel of requesting the city council be dissolved for “political purposes.”
Faisal also criticised Jameel for allegedly being unaware of the difficulties faced by councils in his role as chair of the LGA, the oversight body formed to coordinate with and oversee local council.
The LGA member stressed that dissolving councils was a long process and that the LGA has not made any decision yet, adding that dissolving the council without addressing difficulties it faced would be “unjust.”