MDP councils must cooperate with government developments: President’s Office

The President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali has called on the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) majority councils to cooperate with the government’s development plans.

Speaking to local media on Monday, Muaz said the MDP majority councils should focus on working with the government to bring development to the citizens.

According to a Minivan News analysis of the local council election results, the MDP has gained a majority in 79 councils and won 457 seats. The ruling coalition which include the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), the Jumhooree Party (JP) and the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) control 57 councils and won a combined total of 465 seats.

Muaz specifically called on the MDP led Malé City and Addu City Councils to extend cooperation to the government at a time when President Abdulla Yameen’s administration is initiating major development projects.

“The government will of course always respect the decision of the citizens. However, those people who got elected to councils must bear in mind that today the people desire to overcome political turmoil and focus on bringing development to their cities and islands,” Muaz said.

The Elections Commission (EC) completed announcing the preliminary results of the local councils yesterday.

PPM’s view

PPM’s Local Council Election Coordinator Mohamed Ashmali expressed confidence that the local councils, regardless of party affiliation, would work together in the interests of developing their areas.

“I would like to believe that we will see cooperation from the councils. We saw that even in parliament, MDP provided cooperation in passing some bills key to the government and I believe we will see such cooperation even from the councils,” Ashmali stated.

“The councils must communicate with and work together with whichever government is in power in order to do what they must for their constituencies. There are people who are very close to us in other senses in various parties. Political affiliation is a completely different matter anyway,” he said.

“I think the Maldivian people are still a bit new to the party system, but we are seeing a gradual improvement.”

Ashmali said that as the coalition had worked together in the local council elections, it is important to compare results between the MDP and then the coalition as a single unit, instead of separate parties.

“According to our review of the tentative results, coalition partners mainly got the island and atoll councils. In Addu City, it is true we were not able to conduct sufficient work. The turnout there was also relatively quite low – approximately 60 percent. However, compared to previous years, I believe that having gotten three seats in the Malé City council is quite a good achievement,” he stated.

“I did even suggest to Fuwad Thowfeek [Elections Commission President] that the EC places a ballot box for residents of the island, and a single separate box for voters in an island who originate from other constituencies. This would have assisted in getting the preliminary results out much faster. By just counting the boxes specific to each constituency, citizens and parties would have learnt sooner which seats had been won or lost. This is the information which the parties would most pressingly need after an election,” he added.

No manifesto

MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor confirmed that the party’s approach would be to focus on holding the government accountable and to remain a responsible opposition.

“The councils will display a healthy mix of being a responsible opposition and holding the government accountable,” Hamid said.

“The issue that may arise is that while government asks for cooperation, they don’t even have a manifesto to show. This will cause local councils to ask them what it is that they want cooperation for. That it is unclear what exactly the government plans to do,” he continued.

“The thing, however, is that the culture of the past system is still prevailing in the government’s approach. They tend to treat local councils in the manner they approached the former island chief systems, and tend to ignore the fact that councillors are elected and not appointed like island chiefs, and the fact that councillors have a legal mandate and rights,” Hamid said.