“No grounds” for “unacceptable dismissal” of DRP councillor: MP Rozaina

The main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has strongly condemned the dismissal of Baa Thulhadhoo Councillor Umaira Abubakr yesterday, accusing four councillors of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) of conducting emergency meetings in her absence in a deliberate attempt to remove her from the post.

Article 119(b) of the Decentralisation Act states that a councillor can be removed if he or she misses seven consecutive meetings “without offering a valid reason that is acceptable to the council.” Umaira did not attend ten meetings which took place while she was ostensibly participating in a workshop in Bandos Island Resort.

If the council’s decision to dismiss her stands, Umaira Abubakr, the sole representative of the DRP on the five-member council, will become the first councillor to be removed from her post since the election of local councils in February.

Speaking at a press conference today, DRP MP Rozaina Adam alleged that the four MDP councillors actively plotted to dismiss Umaira from the council.

“There are a number of things that prove that she was dismissed without any grounds and that this was planned by them,” she explained. “Up until May, the Thulhaadhoo council held 23 meetings. However during the period when Umaira went to the workshop, they held ten meetings, four of which were normal meetings but the other six were held as emergency meetings.”

She added that the emergency meetings were conducted to decide trivial matters. “For example, an emergency meeting was held for the sake of changing the days where normal meetings take place.”

Umaira missed the meetings as she was attending a workshop for councillors in Bandos, said Rozaina, claiming that the atoll council had informed the island council of her intent to participate while Chair Ahmed Rasheed had granted permission.

“Moreover, other councillors [who attended the workshop] did not inform their councils in writing before leaving nor did the chair ask Umaira to do so,” she said.

The DRP MP for Thulusdhoo claimed that Umaira was not given notice for meetings nor sent agendas two days in advance as stipulated by article 115(a).

Umaira has since lodged a complaint at the atoll council. Rozaina vowed that the DRP would appeal at the High Court if the atoll council upholds the decision.

Thulhaadhoo Council Chair Ahmed Rasheed told Minivan News today that the decision to dismiss Umaira was taken after consultation with the Local Government Authority (LGA) and based on legal counsel from the Attorney General’s Office.

“She did not inform in writing as she was required by law either before she left or during her holiday,” he insisted.

While confirming that six of the ten meetings in question were emergency sessions, Rasheed however denied the DRP allegation of a deliberate attempt to dismiss Umaira.

Rasheed further denied Rozaina’s claim that police were called in this morning when Umaira came in to the office: “I saw two police officers at the office but we didn’t call them or ask them to remove her.”

On the emergency meetings and their purpose, Rasheed said that he could not recall the agendas.

“It is not up to Rozaina to decide when we should hold meetings,” he said.