Decentralisation is one of the biggest issues facing the Maldives, a group of NGOs said yesterday at a meeting intended to inform the public on the subject.
Transparency Maldives, Democracy house, Rights for All, Madulu, Maldivian Detainee Network, Strength of Society and the Hodehdhoo Association for Development gave out information on decentralisation, an issue which last month caused gridlocks inside parliament and protests outside.
During the last term of parliament, President Nasheed presented a bill to decentralising the Maldives and divide up the islands into seven provinces, as stated in the manifesto of MDP.
Opposition DRP MPs stalled the bill with ammendments leading to quarrelling in the final sessions and several protests. The DRP claimed dividing the Maldives into provinces would affect the provision of services to people, while the MDP claimed it would make it easier.
President Nasheed withdrew the bill due to the heated dispute between MPs, with the intention of returning it later.
DRP MP Ahmed Mahloof said that dividing the Maldives into seven provinces was “illegal”.
Mahloof claimed only 15 per cent of the population would vote for decentralisation if President Nasheed put it to a referendum.
”We asked them to take a vote among the people, and I know they are afraid,” said Mahloof.
Meanwhile, MDP MP Ahmed Easa claimed according to the law Nasheed is compelled to divide the Maldives into provinces because it was in the MDP’s manifesto.
”We believe that people voted for MDP because they want to have what is in our manifesto, so we do not need to be taking another vote on this which will cost more than Rf50 million to undertake,” said Easa.
He claimed that dividing the islands into provinces would bring facilities closer to people.
”For instance, is it easier to come Male’ to get a service provided by the housing ministry or to get that service from the nearby island?” Easa asked.
The bill will return to parliament when it resumes in March.