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Maldives councils lose more powers

Opposition-dominated councils are losing their powers to the housing ministry.



Councils in Addu and Fuvahmulah have had core functions taken away, local media reported, as the government continues its crackdown on opposition-dominated island authorities.

The Maldivian Democratic Party won 12 out of 13 seats on Malé city council, all seven seats on Addu City council and two out of three seats on the Fuvahmulah city council in municipal elections last year.

All three have been gradually stripped of their powers and staff since President Abdulla Yameen assumed office in 2013.

Most recently Malé city council lost its mandate over birth and death records, the registry of permanent residents, unregistered residents and the foreigners’ registry last week. The same thing happened to Addu and Fuvahmulah council on Sunday.

The Housing Ministry took over the registries despite having a unit in both cities, and legislation mandating the maintenance of these registries to councils.

Addu City’s Deputy Mayor Mohamed Yasraf told local media there was confusion about the ministry’s move.

He alleged the registries of the most populated islands in the Maldives were being handed to the ministry for political reasons, with the country preparing to elect a new president in September.

“If this was genuine the ministry would not have made this decision so suddenly and without preparation… So we believe this is a campaign activity,” he said.

Fuvahmulah Deputy Mayor Mohamed Lirar said that re-opening the registry for Dhaftharu, a roster of those who want to be registered as Male’ residents, would allow people to hold two ID cards. Such a step would influence the vote, he said.

Malé city Mayor Shifa Mohamed said the housing ministry takeover was something to fear.