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Malé council threatens to sue housing minister

The housing minister made ‘false and defamatory’ remarks, according to the council.



Malé city council Monday rejected a minister’s claims it had not maintained social housing flats, saying it was finding ways to sue him over his “false and defamatory remarks.”

Mayor Shifa Mohamed blamed the government for failing to provide the council with a budget for renovation and repair work.

Relations between the opposition-majority city council and the government have deteriorated in recent years and tensions have resurfaced, this time over social housing in the capital.

The housing minister earlier accused the council of neglecting those who lived in these properties, asking why a Maldivian Democratic Party-majority council was mistreating them.

But the mayor denied the allegation.

The council asked the housing ministry for a maintenance budget of MVR1 million (US$65,000) but the ministry dispatched a letter marked with a dash, the mayor told local media.

“Over the past four years, we sent many letters to the ministry regarding the flats and the minister did not respond. We have letters from the ministry and we are ready to disclose them to the public,” she said.

The council had worked to collect unpaid rents and made easy arrangements to settle payments, she added. But Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muizzu accused the council of distressing tenants by demanding full payment.

The council was finding ways to sue him because his “false comments were defamatory,” she said.

Deputy Mayor Shamau Shareef also took aim at the minister for reopening a registration scheme for islanders living in the capital.

“That registry remains open, same as before,” Shareef told the media, alleging it was a way to fiddle voter numbers ahead of the presidential election in September.

“While the elections are this close and the amended voters list has already been published, it is a door to mess with the voters list by announcing the registration will be reopened,” he claimed.

Shamau said the registry had been open since 1994 and it was likely the ministry wanted to create a new one. He warned that this move would change the details of the 15,000 people on the existing registry.

“When someone is registered on this, they get a number as their permanent address. If a new list is being made, this will change numbers for everyone and the permanent address on the ID card will also change.

“But this new address will not be on the voters list because the final (voters) list has already been published. And their information will not be valid when they go to vote,” he explained.