MDP will empower island councils, says Nasheed

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) MPs will seek to amend the Decentralisation Act to empower local councils, former President Mohamed Nasheed has said.

Speaking at campaign events in Malé last night, Nasheed said the party’s aim was to award a nearby uninhabited island to each island council as a source of income.

“We want each council to conduct business transactions using the island [to generate income] for establishing sewerage and water systems, build roads or even construct a harbour or do work needed for the school – we want to find a way for you to undertake these efforts on your own,” he said.

Under the existing system of governance, Nasheed contended that the central government could not establish “even two sanitation systems” this year due to financial constraints and the current state of the economy.

Nasheed observed that sewerage, water,and electricity has been established in over 100 resort islands.

The MDP’s policy was facilitating guest house or mid-market tourism in inhabited islands in order to make infrastructure projects economically feasible, Nasheed explained.

Nasheed made the remarks at jagaha (campaign hub) opening ceremonies in the Henveiru ward for the MDP’s candidates for the Eydhafushi constituency in Baa atoll, and the Isdhoo constituency in Laamu atoll.

Speaking at the opening of the campaign hub Eydhafushi candidate, Hisaan Hussain, Nasheed said the law had to be amended for islands to benefit from its natural riches.

“We have to change the decentralisation law to give powers to island councils. We have to give the Eydhafushi council the discretion and the resources to reclaim land. One aim of our party is to empower island councils, generate income for island councils, and find ways for island councils to develop their islands,” he said.

Island councils should be able to initiate infrastructure projects such as establishing sewerage systems, Nasheed added.

In his speeches last night, Nasheed urged voters to compare the MDP’s candidates for Eydhafushi and Isdhoo with their opponents in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Both Hisaan and Umar Razzaq were academically qualified and experienced in government administration and public service, Nasheed said.

Meanwhile, speaking at a function held last night to award the party’s ticket to candidates, Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) Leader Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam Mohamed reportedly said that voting for MDP candidates for parliament “could be a sin.”

Voters should not choose MDP candidates because of the party’s track record during its three years in government, the MP for Dhaalu Meedhoo said.

Praising the MDA’s candidates as “competent and educated,” Shiyam assured supporters that MDA MPs would not sell their votes or accept bribes.

“Bribing to obtain votes is haram. You must not do such a thing,” Shiyam said.

“Ruling a nation is like running a company. Developing a country is also putting the economy back on its feet. That is what we are working for,” the resort tycoon added.