Defence Ministry claims draft UTF agreement is fake!

Defense Minister Mariya and officials of MNDF during the meeting held with Foreign Minister Shahid to discuss national security | Photo: Foreign Ministry

Malé, Maldives – Defence Ministry of Maldives has stated that the leaked Uthuru Thilafalhu draft agreement is fake.

The statement by the ministry also stated that the ministry would not do anything which would implicate the sovereignty and independence of Maldives and also requested not to disperse information which might implicate the relations with neighboring countries.

The draft agreement, which was leaked by former Home Minister Umar Naseer reads that the Indian armed forced would be stationed at Uthuru Thilafalhu for a period of thirty years, which if not objected by either party, would be extended by another thirty years by default.

Leaked unsigned draft agreement between the Maldivian and Indian governments to develop a harbour and dockyard for the purposes of Coast Guard has revealed that all Indian personnel, contractors and services to be exempted from duties and taxes and also that all official Indian documents would be exempted from Customs inspection.

The draft agreement also gives immunity to Indian personnel from any suits or proceedings for implementation of the agreement in Maldives except if those personnel are found guilty of gross negligence or willful misconduct. In addition to this, the Maldivian government is to give full immunity to the personnel deputed by the Indian government and their papers and premises from legal and judicial process as to other diplomatic personnel in Maldives. 

Addressing concerns over the agreement during the time the agreement was signed, MNDF had previously reassured the public that no armed personnel would be stationed at the site. 

Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) had denied any such allegations before and had reassured that no military force will be based at the harbour, detailing that it would only be used to dock and repair Coast Guard vessels.

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 Defence Action Plan signed between India and Maldives in 2016 – when the opposition was in power and the country was led by former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom.

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.