Three councillors have been suspended for meeting India’s ambassador to the Maldives, days after authorities banned local officials from hosting foreign diplomats without prior consent.
The decision to punish the Gaafu Alifu representatives was made at a board meeting of the Local Government Authority on Wednesday. The Maldives Independent has seen a copy of the LGA letter sent to the atoll council.
Diplomats were quick to condemn the LGA’s ban, announced Monday night.
— Bryce Hutchesson (@AusHCSriLanka) December 12, 2017
A further restriction on democracy and transparency in #Maldives: it appears that local elected officials can no longer meet diplomats and civil society NGOs without central government permission. Why? https://t.co/OwktUf4nPj
— Atul Keshap🇺🇸 (@USAmbKeshap) December 12, 2017
Since I met elected island representatives on Thinadhoo earlier today, all local councillors have been instructed that they may only meet diplomats and NGOs with prior permission.
— James Dauris (@JamesDauris) December 11, 2017
The deterioration in democracy and freedoms continues. Why does the MAL Gvt mistrust it's own people so much? Very concerning.
— Joern Rohde (@joern_rohde) December 12, 2017
The LGA letter said the three-member council met with an unnamed foreign diplomat after the authority had warned against doing so without written permission from Malé.
The trio will be suspended for three months without pay and the council secretariat has been asked to deny them access to council premises and documents during the suspension. The councillors are Ahmed Fuad, Ahmed Nazmeen and Hussein Adam.
Speaking to the Maldives Independent, Fuad denied any meeting with a diplomat had taken place after the LGA circular issued.
“We were having dinner with the Indian Ambassador Akhilesh Mishra around the time LGA issued the circular. We received a copy of the circular more than half an hour after the dinner meeting,” he said.
Indian embassy officials were unavailable for comment.