Dr Mariyam Zulfa, CEO of the Local Government Authority (LGA), has defended the agency’s decision to order the annulment of a statement by the Kendikulhudhoo Island Council. 

The contentious statement had accused President Dr Mohamed Muizzu of misusing state resources during his recent visit to Kendikulhudhoo Island in Noonu Atoll, alongside allegations of him urging votes for government-affiliated candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The LGA’s directive, conveyed through a letter to Kendikulhudhoo Council President Mohamed Rauf, has been met with resistance from the council.

The council has refused to retract its statement, prompting a response from Attorney General Ahmed Usham, who has stated that the LGA lacks the legal authority to nullify the council’s statement.

During a press conference, Zulfa argued that the LGA’s intervention was necessary to prevent any potential damage to the president’s reputation and the administration’s respect. She emphasised the importance of maintaining the integrity of the elected president and his office, stating that the LGA’s actions were not intended to undermine the decentralisation system but were taken as a precautionary measure given the sensitivity of the matter.

The controversy has been further complicated by the Attorney General’s remarks, highlighting a constitutional requirement for an inquiry into such matters, suggesting that the LGA’s actions may have bypassed due legal process. In response to the controversies, Minister of Cities, Local Government, and Public Works Adam Shareef has assured that no future actions will be taken against council statements, indicating a possible shift in the government’s stance on the issue.

The Kendikulhudhoo Council’s statement has drawn attention to the alleged misuse of state resources for political campaigning, raising concerns over the separation of state functions and campaign activities. 

The LGA, in its letter to the council, argued that councils must adhere to constitutional mandates in delivering state services and should not issue statements opposing government decisions, a position that has been challenged by the Attorney General.