Bahrain mulls scrapping Manama Council
Manama, September 8, 2013
Bahrain’s government is studying a parliamentary proposal to scrap the Manama Municipal Council and replace it with a Capital Trustees committee consisting of 10 investment experts, a report said.
However, Municipalities and Agriculture Affairs Minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi said both bodies can actually work side by side, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
MP Ahmed Al Mulla, who spearheaded the proposal in June, believes the council - made up of five opposition members and three independents - has deviated from its municipal work and its members are using it as a platform for political purposes.
He accused councillors of favouring their political affiliations over public interest, which he says has cost the Capital Governorate several multi-million dinar projects.
"Parliament's proposal is too vague and the issue is still under study. We are not with it or against it, and it all depends on the options we will get," Dr Al Ka'abi told the GDN.
"Scrapping the council is not an option as it goes against His Majesty King Hamad's democratic reforms and would be a setback to giving people more powers. Co-existing could be a likely option and until parliament reconvenes next month and give us more feedback, we can't really come up with clear recommendations."
Council chairman Majeed Milad Al Jazeeri, who is a senior member of Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, described the appointment of a new body as "unconstitutional".
"The proposal is unconstitutional because it would see a new appointed body, whether to replace us or co-exist with us, robbing the Capital Governorate's citizens of their right to vote," he said.
"All of Bahrain's five municipal councils need assessment and we asked that independent experts are called to carry out examinations. Without feedback on our performances we can't develop or know our faults."
His vice-chairman Mohammed Mansoor dismissed claims that investment projects were not being approved by the council.
"I have been a member of the council between 2002 and 2006, and then from 2010 until today and none of the investments that have come to me were stopped - on the contrary, I always recommend easing procedures to speed up work," he said.
"Investment experts, with due respect, can't take our place because they don't have any legitimacy from the people to take decisions on their behalf on whether the investment is suitable or not."
Meanwhile, National Bahrain Bloc councillor Adnan Al Nuaimi and independent councillor Mohammed Al Hawaj, who replaced Al Wefaq's Sadiq Rahma in November after his resignation, accused MPs of having a political agenda in their attempts to scrap the council.
They claimed the proposal was a scam to cover up ministerial corruption and "under the table" deals. "Everyone knows today about the several corruption cases that are being hidden or buried from the public involving investments that we have managed to unveil," said Mr Al Nuaimi.
However, Independent Bloc councillor Ghazi Al Dossary supported the proposal.
"The Capital Governorate has a special nature that councillors may or may not be able to handle especially in relation to investments," he said.
"Councillors are unable to take action against violators in their constituencies and are forced to accept the rule of voters even if they are not right because they want to get re-elected. The new body is the solution and I think parliament has a point in turning the Capital Governorate into an investment haven,” he added. – TradeArabia News Service
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