Councillor suspensions challenged at High Court

Councillor suspensions challenged at High Court
April 07 15:15 2018

The Local Government Authority’s suspension of councillors was challenged at the High Court last week as four more opposition councillors were told to stay home.

Two members of the Lhaviyani atoll council along with the president and vice president of the Gaaf Alif atoll Dhevvadhoo island council were suspended without pay for one month starting from Sunday, media reported.

The four Maldivian Democratic Party members join 25 elected representatives suspended last month for calling on the authorities to execute a Supreme Court order to release political prisoners.

Opposition-majority councils that released statements backing the February 1 ruling went “beyond the powers and discretion” granted by the decentralisation law, contends the LGA, a supervisory body chaired by Home Minister Azleen Ahmed.

On Thursday, suspended Addu city councillors filed a constitutional challenge against the LGA, asking the High Court to overturn the suspensions and order criminal investigations of LGA members.

The authority’s rules for taking disciplinary action are invalid and the suspensions amount to obstruction of state employees, lawyer Ahmed Abdulla Afeef told the press.

The MDP previously condemned the suspensions as the actions of “a politically weak, law-breaking, dictatorial government without public support.”

Following last week’s suspension, ruling party councillors were put in charge of the Lhaviyani atoll council and Dhevvadhoo island council.

Ahead of the Maldives’ third municipal elections in May – which saw MDP sweep 21 out of 23 seats from the Malé, Addu and Fuvahmulah city councils – the 2010 decentralisation law was amended to change the composition of the LGA’s board to remove members who were not presidential appointees.

In December, the reconstituted LGA suspended three Gaaf Alif atoll councillors for meeting the Indian ambassador to the Maldives without permission from the central government.