PNC deputy leader, Maavah MP Mohamed Saeed said on Monday that the opposition doesn’t have issue with developing a dockyard in the Uthuthu Thila Falhu (UTF) naval base, but has issue with keeping the terms of the agreement between Maldives and India for the development of the dockyard at the base a secret.
Saeed, who served as Economic Minister during former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s administration, made the remark during the debate on an emergency motion submitted to the Parliament calling for the disclosure of details regarding loans from India and the agreement for the UTF harbor and dockyard project.
Saeed said that he condemns the agreement for the UTF project, and said that the PPM-PNC coalition had never, and would never sign agreements that could endanger national security.
“There isn’t anyone in Maldives who would deny the need to build a dockyard. It isn’t building a dockyard that’s wrong. The issue lies in keeping the agreement a secret. The second issue is that military personnel from a foreign country are being allowed to station in Maldives and the Parliament and the Maldivian people are being deceived on this,” he said.
Saeed said that allowing foreign military personnel in Maldives is a great mistake which could cost the country its independence and sovereignty.
The emergency motion was submitted by PPM deputy leader, Naifaru MP Ahmed Shiyam, who claims to have received information the agreement allows Indian military personnel to station in Maldives under the pretense of developing a harbor and dockyard in UTF. He said that though the agreement is linked with the independence and sovereignty of Maldives, it was signed without seeking approval from the Parliament.
Shiyam said that developing the UTF base had been one of former President Yameen’s visions, and that it had been during his administration that Maldives initiated talks with India regarding the project.
Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) issued a statement on Sunday denying the allegations Indian military personnel will be allowed to station in UTF.
The UTF harbor project will be conducted in two phases. According to the agreement, the harbor and dockyard will be developed and opened within three years, after which technical support will be provided at request.