Two opposition councillors in Meemu atoll Dhiggaru say they were barred from the council office today because of a lunch set for the ruling party’s campaign team.
Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, his son and ruling party candidate for the Dhiggaru by-election Ahmed Faris Maumoon, and senior party officials are on the island ahead of Saturday’s polls.
The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) councillor Ahmed Nishan said they were unable to work today as lunch had been set for the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) campaign team in their offices.
“When I came to the office I found out that a lunch was set up in the office where the councillors usually work. The lunch was for Faris Maumoon’s campaign team,” Nishan said.
The five-member council consists of three PPM councillors and two MDP councillors.
Dhiggaru council president Imran Ismail denied that lunch had been set at the council office.
“I am not aware that any councillors are facing difficulties as of yet,” he added.
The council’s vice president, also a PPM member, declined to comment on the matter, while a staff at the council office hung up the phone when asked about the lunch.
Nishan said he believed the lunch was bought on PPM’s funds, as all council members must be informed of expenditure from public funds.
Former President Maumoon reportedly arrived at the council office in the island health centre’s ambulance.
Faris will contest against the MDP’s Ahmed Razee and independent candidate Moosa Naseer Ahmed in the June 6 poll.
The opposition has accused the PPM of vote-buying and bribery after PPM donated x-ray machines and air conditioning units to the constituency.
President Abdulla Yameen this week pledged to provide a 140 kilo-watt power generator for Dhiggaru and urged Dhiggaru constituents to vote for Faris to ensure development.
“If you do this, no doubt when the budget comes, under the principle where constituencies with our members are prioritised now, this constituency will be noted very early on,” he said.
The generator will arrive before Ramadan, and projects to establish water and sewerage systems in Dhiggaru will begin early next year.
An outer wall for the Dhiggaru football field will also be built in two months and a futsal pitch will be built during the year, he pledged.
The government has also signed an agreement with the state-owned Maldives Transport and Construction Company to build a harbour in Dhiggaru.
The by-election was triggered by the jailing of former MP Ahmed Nazim, also a PPM member. He was convicted of defrauding the former atolls ministry and imprisoned for life.
Dhiggaru is a PPM stronghold and a support base of the former president.
The ruling party was also accused of vote buying in April after handing over air-conditioners to a school in Raa Atoll Alifushi, shortly before an island council by-election.