Maldives refutes claims of foreign forces’ presence in archipelago « Khabarhub
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Maldives refutes claims of foreign forces’ presence in archipelago

13 March 2022  

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MALE: Amid the ongoing ‘India Out’ campaign in the Maldives against the supposed “Indian military presence” in the archipelago, the Maldivian defense ministry has cleared that no armed foreign military personnel are present in the country.

In a press release issued on Saturday, the Defense Ministry said no armed foreign military personnel were in the Maldives and that no foreign parties would be active at the Uthuru Thilafalhu (UTF) base where the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF)’s Coast Guard dock and dockyard are being developed, local media reported.

“Statements that allege UTF to be a foreign military base is simply untrue,” the ministry said in its statement. The statement comes amidst Maldivian Opposition’s anti-India campaign, which has been met with sharp criticism from the government, which has launched a counter ‘India First’ policy to battle the ‘false narrative’.

India and Maldives signed an agreement in February 2021 under which India was to develop the harbor of the Maldives National Defense Force Coast Guard at Sifvaru-Uthuru Thilafalhu (UTF).

Former President Abdulla Yameen and his supporters dubbed the agreement as a way through which Indian troops would be stationed in the Maldives and in the months to come launched the ‘India Out’ campaign on social media, accusing the Solih regime of compromising the sovereignty of the country.

Indirectly referring to statements made by Opposition leader Abdulla Yameen at an ‘India Out’ rally held in Mahibadhoo island on Friday, the press release said his statements had no basis and was intended to create unrest among the people, the report said.

The Defense Ministry noted MNDF designed the dock and dockyard in UTF for its needs and to increase the capacity and emphasized that the two are in complete control of the country.

Yameen in his speech had said that agreements between the Maldivian and Indian governments were extremely dangerous, alleging further that one agreement allowed Indian military vessels to enter Maldivian waters without clearance. “Stating that foreign military vessels that arrive in the Maldives do not need a diplomatic clearance, and does not require a permit from the National Defense Force to enter this port, is untrue”, the press release read.

It has been reported previously that the ‘India Out’ campaign might have to do with Yameen’s close affinity with China. A report in the Maldives Voice had said that Yameen’s anti-India sentiment goes way back to the time when the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leader became the President in 2013. Small media websites are today being funded to direct a political campaign that clearly will benefit China in the long run if Yameen gains power again, the report had claimed. (ANI)

Publish Date : 13 March 2022 13:40 PM

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