The Kaafu atoll council has suspended the president of the Maafushi island council, Mohamed Musthafa, without pay for a month over alleged conflict of interest as a guesthouse owner.
“Musthafa has been presiding over Maafushi council meetings and participating in the decision making process of matters directly relating to guest houses of the island. He is an owner of a guesthouse. There is a clear conflict of interest,” Abdulla Varis, vice president of the atoll council, told The Maldives Independent.
The Decentralisation Act prohibits councillors from taking part in meetings where an issue in which he or she has a personal interest is discussed or deliberated upon.
Varis said Kaafu atoll councillors had met the Maafushi island council before Musthafa’s suspension to seek their opinion.
“They informed us that Musthafa had done things like sending warning letters to guesthouses without consulting with other members of the council,” Varis said.
Maafushi is located south of the capital Malé in the same atoll. Entrepreneurs from the island had pioneered guesthouse tourism in the Maldives in 2009. More than 36 guesthouses have opened since then.
Speaking to The Maldives Independent, Musthafa said his suspension was the result of “a personal vendetta” and denied the allegations of participating in making decisions that affect guesthouse businesses.
“The particular issue they are referring to is the council’s decision to gather public opinion on a draft of a regulation to charge certain fees for jetty space. Nothing has been decided,” he said.
Musthafa said he was not given an oral or written warning before the suspension, adding that some atoll councillors have asked the Local Government Authority (LGA) to review the suspension.
The decision to suspend Musthafa was made at a closed meeting of the atoll council.
Musthafa said he would file a complaint at the LGA if it declines to review the case. The LGA is an oversight body for local councils tasked with monitoring and coordinating with the central government.