Malé, Maldives – An unsigned draft agreement between the Maldivian and Indian governments to develop a harbour and dockyard for the purposes of Coast Guard has been leaked on Facebook.
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.
While this is an unsigned draft, it is not clear whether this was the agreement that was signed with the Indian government on 21st February, by Defense Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi and Minister of External Affairs of Maldives Dr. S.Jaishankar.
Addressing concerns over the agreement during the time the agreement was signed, MNDF 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.