Malé, Maldives – Parliament member of North Machangoalhi constituency, Mohamed Rasheed (Boa Dhigu) has said that it is important to have a foreign military base in Maldives.
MP Rasheed said this while speaking at the parliament debate on the emergency motion filed to the Parliament by MP of Naifaru constituency Ahmed Shiyam, in order to obtain details of the agreement made with the Indian government regarding the development of a naval harbour in Uthuru Thilafalhu.
Under the Uthuru Thilafalhu (UTF) Naval Base Harbour Project agreement between Maldives and India to build a coastguard harbor and dockyard in the country which was signed yesterday, India will be aiding Maldives in strengthening the Maldivian Coast Guard capability and facilitate regional HADR efforts.
Speaking at the parliament, MP Rasheed said that if the military presence of the country is strengthened further, that it would help in preventing various types of illicit activities such as drug smuggling, money laundering, fish and oil related criminal activities and that this was the reason for the opposition to make a fuss about the agreement. He also added that the agreement had been made in a way that Maldives would have 100 percent control over it.
Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) had denied that the naval harbour which is to come with a dedicated dockyard for Maldives Coast Guard would have any Indian military personnel stationed there.
The development of this harbour and dockyard in the Uthuru Thilafalhu was something that was initially discussed back in 2013 when Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom was in power, during the then Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim’s trip to India.
While Indian Military presence in Maldives has been a great cause of distress to the current opposition, who have even launched an “#IndiaOut” campaign, the development of this harbour and dockyard in Uthuru Thila Falhu was included under the Defense Action Plan signed between India and Maldives in 2016 – when the opposition was in power.
The project will be carried out in two phases, with the construction of the harbour and dockyard expected to be completed within the first three years. The site will also have a naval harbour with communication equipment and resources, radar services, along with training facilities.