Haa Alif Atoll councillors were allegedly attacked yesterday by island councillors of Dhidhoo together with a few young men from the island, following a vote of no-confidence against the chair of the atoll council.
An atoll councillor told Minivan News on condition of anonymity that the dispute between the island and atoll councils centered around the vacant residence used by the former Atoll Chiefs.
“The Haa Alif Atoll Province Office gave us the building to stay in because atoll council members were elected from different islands, and we all had to move to Dhidhoo because that is where the atoll council has to hold meetings,” he explained.
The dispute began after island councillors claimed the building for their purposes but were overruled by the Province Office, he said.
“This has been going on for a while,” he said. “While we were staying there with the authorisation of the state, the island councilors broke in and threw us out, and they changed the locks on the doors. Then we had to wait two days without proper sleep, shelter or food.”
The incident led the atoll councillors to move a motion of no-confidence against the chair of the council, who is from Dhidhoo.
“We passed the no-confidence motion and the island councilors came with eight or nine young people in the island and attacked us,” he claimed. “Three of the atoll councillors were injured, but no major injuries were caused.”
Following the incident, he added, atoll councilors were told by the government to move back to their islands until further notice.
“Now all the councilors have moved back to their own islands and we are thinking of ways to conduct our work even while staying in different islands,” he said.
A Dhidhoo island councillor, Abdulla Waheed, however dismissed the allegations and insisted none of the events took place.
Waheed said the atoll councilors were staying in the ‘Atoll House’ unlawfully and claimed that electricity bills had not been paid for the past eight months.
“It is the property of the island council and it has been a month since the atoll councillors were told to hand the building over to the island council because it does not have an adequate place to work,” he said.
The situation in Dhidhoo was “calm and normal” in the wake of the dispute between the councils, he said.