'Govt is attempting to influence the council election'

The opposition coalition has accused main-ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) of attempting to influence the upcoming local council election by utilizing state funds and resources.

The opposition coalition called on the relevant authorities to take action on the issue.

Speaking at a rally held Tuesday night calling to free jailed former president and opposition leader Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom, Maduvvary MP and the Parliamentary Group Leader of Peoples' National Congress, Adam Shareef Umar said the recently held symposium for local councils, 'Viyavathi Raajje' was a masked attempt by the government to influence councillors.

The conference organized by utilizing a large amount of funds was attended by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed and several cabinet ministers.

During the rally, Adam Shareef Umar condemned the actions of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and senior leaders of MDP for urging councillors to vote for MDP in the local council election. Describing the actions as acts of corruption, Adam Shareef said the conference was intended to influence councillors by getting them in one place to garner support for MDP under the guise of a symposium.

"It is clear that the government is working hard in their efforts to influence the local council election. All councillors across the Maldives were gathered at a 'pearl' of an island developed by President Yameen by spending large amounts of state funds, and were urged to vote for MDP. What is evident [from their actions] is that the government is attempting to gather votes for MDP by utilizing state funds and resources. This is a clear attempt to exert influence and pull the wool over the eyes of the citizens and carry out injustices through means of corruption," he said.

Shareef called on the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to investigate the matter.

During the Viyavathi Raajje symposium, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had called on councillors to vote for a party willing to implement decentralization in the Maldives.

President Solih said if the citizens of the nation wished to implement the Decentralization Act, only those who believe in decentralization and those are willing to implement it must be elected in the upcoming local council election.

"We all believe this, and no doubt, it is clear whom you should be voting for. Hopefully, we will implement this law," said President Solih while addressing at the symposium.

While the country is governed by a coalition of four political parties, President Solih did not mention a specific party by name. However, while the coalition allies contested in the parliamentary elections individually, it is believed that the local council election will also be tackled similarly by the ruling coalition.

The Elections Commission is preparing for the upcoming local council election slated for April 4, 2020. 980 councillors will be elected in the election.