Councilor suspended over tweet

The Local Government Authority (LGA) has suspended a fourth councilor for refusing to participate in the government-organized celebrations to mark fifty years of independence from the British

The president of the Baa Atoll Thulhaadho council, Ahmed Abdul Raheem, was suspended for one month without pay over a tweet in which he opposed the education ministry’s plans to hold a parade for students on May 30.

In a tweet on May 29, Ahmed said the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) will start a door-to-door campaign to discourage students from participating in the parade.

The LGA, headed by home minister Umar Naseer, sent a letter to the council within hours asking why Ahmed had called for students to avoid the parade. The letter also warned the LGA will penalize any councilors who obstruct the parade.

In reply, the council said it was not aware of such a tweet.

The LGA then sent a second letter last week ordering the council to withhold Ahmed’s salary.

“This is a ridiculous move by the government aimed at destroying the decentralization system and this decision was made by Umar Naseer and his special committee,” Ahmed said.

He vowed to contest Naseer’s letter at the court. He also said he had not participated in the door-to-door campaign and was not aware if such a campaign had taken place.

All Thulhadhoo councilors are MDP members.

LGA spokesperson Mohamed Azmeen declined to comment and said that “the decision to suspend councilors are made at the top.”

Naseer was not responding to calls at the time of going to press.

On May 31, the LGA suspended three councilors of the Alif Alif atoll council over a resolution declaring that the council will not participate in the Independence Day activities. All six members of the atoll council belong to the MDP.

The Thulhadhoo council will meet on Wednesday to decide on Naseer’s letter, said vice president Ahmed Rasheed.

In late May, the LGA had asked the Thulhadhoo council to withhold pay of their councilor Ziyau Rasheed, who was suspended for 2 months following his arrest at the opposition’s mass anti-government protest on May 1.

The council had defied orders saying that the authority’s order was contrary to relevant laws and regulations. Unless a court of law rules otherwise, the Thulhaadhoo council said it would be following an “unconstitutional order” if it enforced the decision.

In a letter on June 1, the council told the LGA to stop threatening the council and said the only office authorized to penalize councilors were the police and the courts.

A total of seven councillors were suspended for two months without pay for participating in the May 1 protest. Nearly 20,000 people took to the streets of Malé on May Day demanding the release of Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim.

In early May, MDP island and atoll councillors in Noonu atoll decided to chip in to pay the salary of suspended Holhudhoo councillor Hussain Habeeb.


LGA suspends seven councilors over May Day protest

The Local Government Authority (LGA) has suspended seven councilors who took part in an anti-government demonstration on May 1.

All seven had been arrested in a police crackdown after protesters attempted to enter Malé’s restricted Republic Square. They were suspended for two months, local media reports.

Councilors are elected for island and atoll councils for three years. There are over 1000 councilors in the Maldives.

According to the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), some 300 of its 450 island and atoll council members had taken part in the protest. Some 7000 people had traveled to Malé from Maldives’ remote islands for May Day, the opposition has claimed.

Nearly 20,000 protesters took part in the May Day march and demanded the release of imprisoned ex-president Mohamed Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim.

Home minister and president of the LGA, Umar Naseer, has also asked the anti-corruption watchdog to penalize any councilors who had traveled to the capital on state funds.

According to the opposition coalition, 12 employees of the state were dismissed for participating in the protest.


Opposition councillors denounce ‘intimidation’ by government

The home ministry is attempting to intimidate island councillors by requesting a list of councillors present in Malé during a mass anti-government protest on May Day, the opposition has said.

Home minister and head of the local government authority, Umar Naseer, last week also asked the anti corruption watchdog to penalise any councillors who may have traveled on state funds to the capital this weekend.

Councillors are required to inform the LGA or the island council before traveling out of their islands.

Nearly 200 people were arrested and scores were injured in violent clashes at the largest anti-government protest in a decade.

Meanwhile, several opposition dominated councils have passed resolutions to boycott the home ministry’s celebrations for the golden jubilee of independence this year. The ministry has threatened to dissolve such councils.

Speaking to the press outside the LGA today, council member for northern Haa Dhaal Neykurendhoo island Mohamed Ibrahim said: “We were elected by the people, we do what they want, nobody voted for Umar Naseer.”

The opposition is protesting over the imprisonment of ex-president Mohamed Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim. Despite a crackdown on and the dispersal of the May Day protest, the allied opposition parties say they will continue with daily protests.

Deputy chairperson of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, Ali Niyaz, said 300 of the party’s 450 councillors had taken part in the mass protest. There are over a 1,000 councillors for 188 islands and two cities in the Maldives.

“Most of the councillors travelled to the capital using their own funds while others passed resolutions and travelled using state funds,” Niyaz said.

President of Baa Atoll council, Adil Mohamed, has accused the government of attempting to destroy decentralisation in the country by its threat to dissolve councils.

“They could take any action against councillors, but that will fail to hide the suffering of the people,” he said. The MDP councillor also criticised the government’s decision to discontinue electricity subsidies to businesses in the islands saying many businesses were now heading into bankruptcy.

Condemning the home ministry order on the Alif Dhaal atoll council to withdraw a resolution to boycott independence day celebrations, one councillor said: “The country lacks its freedom now and it will be better to work to restore freedom rather than celebrate it.”

Hussein Shaamil, council member of Meemu Kolhufushi, said that councillors were elected for public service, and said he would participate in whatever political activity necessary, whenever required.

Shaamil also called upon the Alif Dhaal council to defend its motion and pledged to support the atoll council.


Home Minister Umar Naseer elected as LGA President

Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer has been elected as the Local Government Authority (LGA) president.

Media reports say that Naseer – who is the cabinet representative in the authority – was elected to the post unanimously by the seven members present at today’s LGA board meeting.

The post was previously filled by the former Defense Minister Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim, who has now been dismissed from his posts and is now under arrest, with the police accusing him of plotting a coup and trying to harm senior government officials.

Today’s meeting was the third LGA meeting so far this year.


Attorney General rules that Nazim’s dismissal as LGA chair was valid

The attorney general has said that recently dismissed defence minister Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim had breached regulations with regards to a no-confidence motion lodged against him by the board of the Local Government Association (LGA).

Mohamed Anil has noted that the agenda of any meetings can only be changed with two days’ notice, and that this was not done when Nazim removed the no-confidence vote from the agenda of a January 15 meeting.

Five of the LGA’s nine board members subsequently refused to end the meeting, writing to Anil for advice before voting on the motion and deciding to remove Nazim from his position. His opponents had accused him of failing to protect the country’s decentralisation system.

Nazim was later reported as saying that the vote was invalid, while the Majlis national security committee last week recommended the dismissal of the interim chair Shujau Hussain.

Following his dismissal in relation to dangerous weapons charges last week, Nazim has been replaced as the president’s representative on the LGA board by home minister Umar Naseer.

Naseer is currently out of the country – receiving his Masters degree from the University of Hull, leaving tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb as acting home minister.

Source: Haveeru


Majlis security committee recommends dismissal of interim LGA chair

With additional reporting by Daniel Bosley

The Majlis national security committee has recommended the removal Shujau Hussain from the Local Government Authority (LGA) board, say media reports.

In a sitting held today, the committee decided to suspend Shujau from the board after reviewing complaints regarding disciplinary issues submitted by other board members against him, though further details have not been revealed.

Shujau says he has not been officially informed of the decision but suggested that the rules of procedure for his suspension could not have been followed as the full Majlis is not in session to approve the move.

“I believe I am still in charge of the LGA,” said Shujau – the public’s appointee to the board.

Shujau claimed to have become interim leader of the LGA late last week as he and four of the board’s nine members passed a no-confidence motion against association chair and Minister of Defence Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim.

He had previously proposed the motion late last month, arguing that Nazim had refused to table the issue at the time.

Following the meeting on Thursday, however, Nazim was reported as saying that his removal had breached LGA procedures, telling media that an investigation into Shujau’s ethical conduct was under way.

Committee member General Ibrahim Didi told Minivan News that he did not believe the decision taken by the committee today was in line with the correct procedures, although he declined to discuss the details of the meeting itself.

“Whatever they do, they have to complete the full procedure – they have to question the person concerned. They did not do that today,” said Didi.

The decision to suspend Shujau was reportedly taken with a majority of six votes from the ruling coalition. Two members, one from opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Jumhooree Party (JP) voted against his suspension and removal, said

The composition of the committee is five seats for ruling Progressive Party of Maldives, three seats for MDP, two seats for JP, and one seat for Maldivian Development Alliance.

Formed under the 2010 Decentralisation Act, the LGA is tasked with overseeing and coordinating the work of the Maldives’ 199 city, atoll, and island-level councils.

Both Shujau and Malé City Councillor Shamau Shareef have expressed concern that Nazim – also acting minister of health – was not working to protect decentralisation in the country.

“He is not standing up to protect the system,” Shamau told Minivan News last month, arguing that Nazim had failed to protect Malé City Council from persistent reduction of its powers.

Related to this story

LGA board vote to remove Chairperson Nazim

Defence minister Nazim faces no-confidence motion from LGA board

Southern atolls sign pact to defend decentralisation


LGA Vice President Ahmed Faisal resigns

Local Government Authority (LGA) Vice President Ahmed Faisal has resigned from his post at the local councils’ oversight body.

Faisal told local media that he resigned to make way for new members to work with newly-elected councils.

The LGA is tasked with monitoring local councils and coordinating with the government. Its board is comprised of a cabinet minister appointed by the president, a member from Malé City Council, four members elected from atoll councils, a member appointed by parliament to represent civil society, a member of the general public by parliament and a member of a city council elected from the Malé and Addu city councils.

Faisal was the civil society member on the LGA. Following the swearing-in of newly-elected councillors on February 26, the LGA’s board will be reconstituted.

Faisal had been outspoken about reforms to the current model of decentralisation followed in the country. He had recently suggested lengthening council terms from three to five years to allow the Elections Commission to conduct the parliamentary and local council elections simultaneously.

At a press conference last week, current LGA chair, Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim, criticised Faisal’s recommendation and dismissed it as his “personal opinion”. The defence minister also alleged that Faisal had been pursuing a personal agenda in deciding matters related to local councils.


MDP will empower local councils: Nasheed

Former president Mohamed Nasheed has said the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) will not allow the Maldives to become a “unitary state” and will empower local councils.

Speaking at an MDP rally held last night at Alimas Carnival area in Male’, Nasheed said that if MDP wins majority of the seats in the parliament, the party will arrange an uninhabited island for every council and provide councils with the means of making an income.

He said MDP will work within the parliament to ensure councils are given the authority to utilize land, and with that councils will fulfill the pledge of providing citizens with housing.

He noted the importance of allowing the councils to have the funds they earn in their own accounts.

Nasheed said the MDP accepted the presidential election result knowing that it was achieved through a court, and will work twice as hard to win the upcoming local council and parliament elections.

He announced his plans to visit every inhabited island of Maldives before 22 March.

“Maldives is clearly proving that a coalition government have no place under the constitution, President Yameen cannot rule except with the twenty six percent he won.” Nasheed said, reiterating his criticism of coalition governments.

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom won 25.35 percent of the vote in the first round of presidential elections held on September 7. The Supreme Court subsequently annulled the election and ordered a revote. Yameen’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) won in the second round with 51.39 percent of the vote after third-placed candidate Gasim Ibrahim backed the PPM.

People’s Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid also echoed Nasheed’s concerns over the state of local governance in the Maldives.

Describing decentralization as the biggest changed brought about by the 2008 constitution, Shahid accused then opposition parties of confusing the meaning of the decentralization act.

MDP candidates for local councils were announced at last night’s rally. The local council elections will be held on January 18 and Parliamentary elections are scheduled for March 22.


EC to seek AG advice on following Supreme Court guidelines

The Elections Commission (EC) has decided to seek advice from the Attorney General on whether the commission must follow the Supreme Court’s 16 point electoral guideline in the upcoming local council and parliamentary elections.

The Supreme Court had issued the guidelines in October in its verdict annulling the first round of presidential polls held on September 7. EC President Fuwad Thowfeek has previously slammed the guidelines as “restrictions”

EC member Ali Mohamed Manik told local media the commission is abiding by the Supreme Court’s guidelines in preparations for the upcoming elections. However, the EC may face the same challenges if the commission were to follow the Supreme Court’s requirements, Manik said.

The guidelines effectively give candidates veto power over polls as they state the EC must obtain the signature of all candidates on the voter registry and mandates the commission ensure that reports on the voting process are compiled in the presence of candidates’ representatives.

The EC has previously said obtaining the signatures of the 4000 candidates contesting local council elections will be “impossible.”

“While some of the points in the guideline state it applies to all elections, we can see that the complete guideline is actually intended for presidential elections when we look at it in its entirety. Most of what is in the full verdict is also about the presidential election. Furthermore, it will be very difficult to follow some of the points in it in other elections,” Manik said.

The Supreme Court’s requirements caused major delays in this year’s presidential elections with three contestants. The parliamentary election will have hundreds of contestants for the 85 constituencies, while the local council election will have over 4000 of contestants running for 1118 seats in island, atoll and city councils in 20 atolls.

LGA and MMA call to merge elections

The Local Government Authority (LGA) – chaired by Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim – has on Thursday announced it will work with the government to organize simultaneous polls for the local council and parliament.

LGA has also requested the government to include the proposal in the planned amendments to the Decentralisation Act.

“When all the elections are held together, it will decrease the economical cost caused by holding separate elections, while also lessening the tearing up of the national social fabric, which happens as a result of elections”, a statement from the LGA reads, as reported by local media Haveeru.

The statement further said that the funds spent on councils cannot be used productively unless the councils are developed and strengthened. The authority said the proposed amendments to the Decentralisation Act  will assist in cutting costs.

The Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) has meanwhile recommended combining presidential, parliamentary and local council elections in order to reduce state expenditure and improve governance.