The Parliament’s Committee on Decentralisation will look into warnings issued by the Local Government Authority (LGA) against statements and decisions by councils during President Muizzu’s current visit to the atolls, the chairperson for the local governance committee and Member of Parliament (MP) for Hulhumalé, Ali Niyaz, has warned.

LGA censured the Kendhikulhudhoo Council for issuing a statement in which the council contends that President Mohamed Muizzu abused state resources by participating in what they saw as political campaigning under the guise of an official visit.

The LGA had instructed the Kendhikulhudhoo Council to withdraw their statement, while striking it down by asserting that councils do not have the authority to issue such statements in connection with the president’s visits.

“Councils are not a branch of the LGA, they are entities that are required by law to operate independently, so all parties should be given the opportunity to act in that way,” Niyaz said.

The council’s statement, reflecting on what was stated by the President’s Office as an official visit to Kendhikulhudhoo by the President, noted that activities organised through the council were turned into political campaign events and the president utilised these platforms for political purposes without the council’s consent, endorsement, or prior knowledge.

The council said Muizzu visited the island on 29 February in an official capacity and therefore it had facilitated arrangements as requested by the President’s Office. As such, the council had engaged in the event organised to meet residents, the council outlined in its statement.

At some point during the meeting with the residents, the President and his Cabinet ministers shifted the tone in a party-political direction by seeking support for administration-aligned candidates running in the 2024 parliamentary elections, the statement said.

The Kendhikulhudhoo council’s statement went on to note that, while the law might not prohibit the incumbent from promoting a particular party or seeking political support for candidates as he himself had contested a presidential election on a political party ticket, the use of state resources in campaigning for party political activities is prohibited by Article 19 of the General Elections Act of 2008.

“The council believes that such acts of misuse of state resources and state agencies will seriously undermine the trust of the people in state agencies,” the council said.

The Kendhikulhudhoo Council, therefore, condemned what it described as party political campaigning for the election.

In addition, the council highlighted in its statement that the laws in force in the Maldives apply equally to everyone without exception, and the council would not stand by idly when one does something outside the law.

The LGA had further inquired as to why officials from the Velidhoo Council had not travelled to meet with President Muizzu during his visit to Noonu Atoll. The council refused to meet with the president after the head of state cancelled his visit to the most populous island in the atoll, asking Velidhoo Council members to meet with him at Holhudhoo Island.

LGA members will be summoned to a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Decentralisation scheduled for Monday and questioned regarding their actions, MP Niyaz told local media.

The President’s official visits to the atolls, which come as the country prepares for a parliamentary election in April, have drawn sharp criticism from his opponents and observers alike; however Minister for Strategic Communications at the President’s Office, Ibrahim Khaleel, told local media that rumours that the president was engaging in party political activities through his official visits were false and unfounded.