Spokesperson for the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) parliamentary group MP Ahmed Shifaz has said the parliamentary group intends to take the dispute over the province section of the decentralisation bill to the supreme court.
Shifaz said according to the constitution, when the parliament disputes an issue by resolution it has the power to ask for advice from the supreme court.
”The opposition say it is unconstitutional to divide the country in to seven provinces,” Shifaz said, ”so we are going to present a resolution to the parliament, and see what the Supreme Court says,”
He said he hoped the opposition MPs would agree to pass a resolution to hear what the Supreme Court says.
”According to the constitution the Supreme Court is able to give the last word,” he said. ”I hope they agree and pass the resolution.”
MDP MP Ahmed Hamza said the MDP parliamentary group had decided to present a resolution according to the Article 95 of the constitution.
Aricle 95 of the constitution reads as follows: ”The People’s Majlis may by resolution refer to the Supreme Court for hearing and consideration important questions of law concerning any matter, including the interpretation of the Constitution and the constitutional validity of any statute. The Supreme Court shall answer the questions so referred and shall provide the answers to the People’s Majlis, giving reasons for its answers. The opinion shall be pronounced in like manner as in the case of a judgement on appeal to the Supreme Court.”
Hamza said that the opposition MPs claimed that dividing the country into seven provinces was against article 230 [b] of the constitution.
Article 230 [b] of the constitution reads as follows: ”In order to provide for decentralised administration, the President has the power, as provided in law, to create constituencies, posts, island councils, atoll councils and city councils.”
”This is not a constitutional issue, in fact, this is a political issue,” Hamza said, ”we want the Supreme Court to say whether dividing in to seven provinces is against 230 [b] of the constitution.”
Independent MP Mohamed Nasheed said did not wish to comment on the issue yet.
”This might even be a political issue,” he suggested.
Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Ahmed Nihan said it was written in the constitution “in clear words” that the country’s administrative units cannot be divided into seven provinces.
Nihan said the party would not change its stand.
”I do not think the Supreme Court would say we are wrong either,” he said. ”I think our party will not change its mind.”
He said dividing the country into administrative units would make it more difficult for people to get services from the government.
Deputy Leader of DRP Umar Naseer said that presenting a resolution to the parliament to hear what the Supreme Court had to say on the matter “does not have any weight.”
”Although the Supreme Court can say whatever it likes, it’s in the hand of MPs to decide what to do with the provinces,” he said. ”They are just trying to delay this bill.”
He said that MDP MPs were already aware that people did not want to divide the country’s administrative units into seven provinces.