The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) must present its vision of functioning city, atoll and island councils to the public ahead of the local government elections on January 18, former President Mohamed Nasheed said last night at the opposition party’s first post-election rally.
Speaking to thousands of supporters at the carnival stage area in Male’, Nasheed noted that the chapter on decentralisation in the constitution was added by the MDP while others insisted that it conflicted with the Maldives being a unitary state.
“Maldivian rulers should not think after this January that they could govern without city councils, atoll councils and island councils,” Nasheed said.
While the People’s Majlis has oversight powers to hold the government accountable, Nasheed said it was the councils that “directly provide services to the public.”
The purpose of decentralised administration was to bring the government “closer to the people,” he said, adding that the MDP government worked closely with the councils elected in February 2011.
The MDP’s vision for city and island councils should be based on the experience of the past three years, he said.
Nasheed referred to the signing of a waste management contract with India’s Tatva Global Renewable Energy earlier this month.
The contract should have been signed in February 2012 but was delayed by the previous administration, he continued, which worsened the waste disposal problem in the capital and deprived the city council’s waste management section of necessary investment.
The former MDP presidential candidate expressed confidence of winning the council elections against the parties in the government coalition.
Nasheed observed that the MDP won clear majorities in the presidential election from urban centres such as Male’ City and the southernmost Addu City as well as a plurality of votes in most other constituencies.
As the party would win against more than one candidate from different parties, Nasheed said the MDP should assume that government-aligned parties would field single candidates.
“We must face this contest on our own, with our own courage,” he said.
“MDP is a ship for all seas,” Nasheed said, adding that the party was equally fit for governance and opposition.
Nasheed vowed that the MDP would hold the present administration answerable and watch over its actions “every minute of every day.”
The party would keep citizens informed, he added, asserting that the country could “no longer be governed through deceiving the public.”
“Freedom of assembly and freedom of expression must be defended even with our lives. We have to maintain this system that we’ve got,” Nasheed said.