Friday 1st Dec 2023
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UTF Agreement

Vice Chief of Defence Force Lies About Duration of UTF Agreement

Vice Chief of Defence Force Brig. Gen. Abdur Raheem Abdul Latheef lied regarding the duration of the Uthuru Thila Falhu (UTF) Agreement signed between the Maldives and India.
During a news conference held on 16 March 2021, Brig. Gen. Abdul Latheef had said that he had mentioned the duration of the agreement on a previous occasion.
"We had mentioned the duration of the agreement even on that [previous] day. Right now, there's talk pointing out that this agreement calls for 30 years, 60 years. Even then, we said it was 3 years to develop this place (i.e. UTF), and after that the duration would be 15 years", he said.
However, Brig. Gen. Abdul Latheef had not said that the duration of the agreement was 15 years during the 21 February 2021 news conference that had been held after the signing of the UTF agreement. On that occasion, he had only said that development would take 3 years, and that the Indians would stay for any period of time requested by the MNDF.
"This is in 2 phases. The first phase is to develop the location. There are 3 years to develop, complete, and open the location.. after that, if we need technical support: we have come to an agreement with the Indian government that they would provide as much technical support for us for any duration that we wish", said Brig. Gen. Abdul Latheef on 21 February.

Dhiyares, the sister-newspaper of The Maldives Journal, had subsequently submitted a request to the Ministry of Defence through the Right To Information (RTI) Act that the agreement duration be disclosed. In response, the Ministry had written that they could not disclose that information as disclosing the duration of the agreement posed a risk to "national security".

Given that Brig. Gen. Abdul Latheef's comments on 16 March contradict with his comments on 21 February and the written response given by the Ministry, it is entirely unclear which source of information is actually credible.

The government had decided on keeping the signed agreement classified.