Housing Ministry asks Male City Council to hand over MDP protest site in seven days, despite High Court order

The Housing Ministry has asked the Male’ City Council to evacuate and hand over the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s protest site at Usfasgandu in Male within seven days.

The repeated demand comes a day after the High Court overturned a Civil Court order backing the government’s previous order that the land be handed over.

Speaking at a press conference held today, Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muiz said the council was not using the Usfasgandu site according to the government’s land use plan.

Muiz said the council has been sent a notice asking them to evacuate the land plot and if not the ministry will, in accordance to the law, evacuate the land plot and will not be responsible for any loss of property in the area.

Muiz also said that the government will not hesitate to take actions against any one in order to protect the interest of the citizens.

‘’Because of the way the Male’ City Council is using the land, it is not benefitting the people,’’ he said. ‘’So a notice have been sent in reference to the High Court order and Attorney General’s advice.’’

Muiz also said the ministry had received reports that Male’ City Council was ordering businessmen running food outlets and other businesses in the ‘Alimas Carnival’ area to vacate the area. He said the businessmen did not have to listen to what the council said because the Alimas Carnival area was no longer under the jurisdiction of the council.

‘’They can run their businesses unless the government ask them to leave the area,’’ he added.

Land dispute

The area was cordoned off by police late last month after the High Court issued a warrant requesting the area be kept under police custody until it reached a verdict on the case.

Male’ City Council leased the Usfasgandu area to the ousted ruling party in March 2012, prompting repeated attempts by the government to reclaim the area on the grounds it was being used for criminal activity, including the practice of black magic.

The MDP had moved to the area after a previous protest camp at the tsunami monument was dismantled and completely repainted by police and military on March 19, 2012.

On May 29, police raided the Usfasgandu site after obtaining a search warrant from the Criminal Court, ordering the MDP to vacate the area. The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) then began dismantling the protest camp.

The Housing Ministry filed a case with the Civil Court after MCC refused to hand the land plot to the ministry.


Civil Court issues injunction on land sales

The Civil Court of Maldives issued an injunction yesterday to temporarily cease the auctioning of plots in the Male’ southwest harbour, pending a ruling on the case filed by the opposition joint coalition challenging the legitimacy of the process.

‘’If the opportunity is given to continue the transactions, the court believes its potential consequences may be irreversible,’’ reads a statement from the court.

The four opposition parties in parliament, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), People’s Alliance (PA), Jumhooree Party (JP) and Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), contested the policy in court on the grounds that the cabinet made the decision in violation of the Land Act 2002, article three of which states that the president should declare policy.

As the cabinet has not been approved by parliament, the coalition argues it did not have the authority to hand over the task to Male’ municipality.

Moreover, the coalition claims that the transactions violate article 250[a] and article six of the constitution.

On July 20, the President’s Office announced the cabinet’s decision to sell off 11 plots of 50,000 square feet of land as part of the policy to develop the southwest harbour area.

”Proceeds from the sale of this land will be used to finance the development of entire harbour area, and build multi-purpose buildings to lease,” the President’s Office revealed at the time.

Over Rf100 million has been raised so far from the sale of four plots in the first phase of the auction.