Initial council regulation concerns a “bit alarmist”, says local NGO

Concerns over a lack of details regarding the powers and jurisdiction of recently formed local councils have been downplayed as alarmist by the Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) which contends that the unprecedented decentralisation of the country’s political system may require a transitional learning period before finding its feet.

Ahmed Irfan, executive director of the Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN), told Minivan News that although local councils had been appointed following last weekend’s elections without defined roles or powers, the outlining of regulations for a major new political system could not occur immediately.

A number of prominent politicians across the country, including the leader of the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, have raised concerns that while councils have been elected, there was little regulation or legal framework to actually define their role or method.

Thasmeen claimed following the elections that successful candidates from across the political spectrum had not been given any indication of what would be expected of them whilst serving as councillors.

“It is a fact that candidates from many parties including ours may not be clear on their responsibilities and mandates,” Thasmeen said at the time. The DRP leader added that no timetable for councilors to begin their work had also been given.

Ahmed Shareef, secretary general for the fellow opposition party the People’s Alliance (PA) also said that details on the exact role and responsibilities of the newly appointed local councils had been extremely limited.

“We really don’t know how system will work or how affiliated it may be with government,” he said.

In this uncertain post council election environment, Shareef said that he believed there were already reports that numerous opposition parties were working to stifle possible developments or strategies planned by elected councils.

However, Irfan said that highlighting the initial lack of detail regarding the councils as a major concern at present was perhaps sensationalist, adding that adapting national laws and power sharing agreements to regional levels was a completely new challenge.

The MDN’s executive director said that while details and information surrounding the councils was needed as soon as possible for politicians and constituents alike, as an entirely new political development, he believed people needed to be flexible.

“When the Local Government Authority (LGA) is formed and comes into place they will be able to define where the responsibilities of island councils end and atoll councils begin,” he said. “The path of this jurisdiction will fall to the LGA and could prove to be one of the most important regulations concerning the councils.”

According to Irfan, alongside the wider division of power, each of the councils bought into operation following the elections will have to discuss around 25 regulations concerning how they will operate within the Maldives.

“I am not sure they are areas that can be initially informed and decided upon before the councils are operating,” he added.

While the councils are expected to serve as independent institutions; in certain areas such as the release of land or funding, MDN’s executive director claimed they would still be bound by national Land Laws and finance regulations.

Irfan added that the MDN did have some possible concerns that a lack of official information over the individual roles of the local councils and the exact powers they would have in relation to parliament were one possible reason of a relatively low turn outs from voters in areas like Male’.

However, he stressed that only allowing constituents to vote within the atoll of their registered permanent address had also potentially stymied interest among people currently living in other parts of the country.

Representatives for the LGA were not available for comment at the time of going to press.


6 thoughts on “Initial council regulation concerns a “bit alarmist”, says local NGO”

  1. So why did you all have the elections if you didn't know what would be your responsibilities after the elections? How silly are all these Maldivians!

  2. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA Excuse me for that, But i am laughing at all the people who contested and for all the people who voted not knowing for what they are voting and not knowing for what they running for.

    And I am angry at the political parties, and Mr Irfan the NGO had failed today. And most angry at the gov and election commission.

    Today their is a bigger issue than not knowing the functions of local councils. Today we don't know who is responsible for providing the public with information on these new things. The election says it's up to political parties. While Political parties only promote things the way they want. MDP says local council is for their manifesto. While DRP said Local Council's budget was given from the Majlis.

    I say there is a huge responsibility on Maldives National Broadcasting Cooperation to provide the public with information. I don't see any reason why the government should run a broadcasting company to make money. There is no logic in that.

    While Local Council was closing up they MNBC was touring the entire nation, hard at work visiting every atoll, talking to people, having interviews, doing WHAT?? Finding VOICE OF MALDIVES.

    Today we are giving salary to 1091 councilors, that is spending 190 million a year from state budget.. to people who we elected not knowing what. and the people who got elected. they don't know what.!!! I say close down MNBC

  3. "Today we are giving salary to 1091 councilors, that is spending 190 million a year from state budget..."

    Call it a job creation scheme! Now, we have 1091 jobs that didn't exist before. Good for the overall economy...

  4. Ahmed Bin addu : how is it good for the economy? if its good for the economy we should spend all the money for salaries. How about we share 12 billion rufiya among 300000 people/?

  5. Apparently democracy for us is having the option to "vote"! As long as we have the right to vote we are all happy and calling ourselves (and the people who have given us this right) as embracing democracy. When the choice of people we have to vote for are worse than having no choice at all and when those people elected (and their political parties) don't seem to care about what they will be responsible for once elected through this "democratic" system - who wouldn't be alarmed??


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