Friday 1st Dec 2023
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UTF Agreement

Home Minister Imran Avoids UTF Question

The Home Minister, Imran Abdulla, refused to answer quetions posed by MP Mohamed Saeed (Maavah) regarding the agreement; titled "Development, Support, and the Maintenance of the Maldives National Defence Force Harbour Sifavaru at Uthuru Thila Falhu"; that had been signed between the Indian and Maldivian governments earlier this year.
MP Saeed asked the Minister whether the Uthuru Thila Falhu (UTF) agreement had been discussed in Cabinet. Minister Imran responded that he had difficulty hearing the question. The acting Speaker, Eva Abdullah, refused to grant MP Saeed a chance to reiterate his question and instead allowed another parliamentarian to speak.
The government has persistently refused to disclose the UTF agreement. The Ministry of Defence had claimed that any disclosure of any part of the UTF agreement posed a national security threat, during a hearing at the Information Commissioner's Office following a request for information lodged by Dhiyares, the sister-newspaper of The Maldives Journal.
A draft copy of the UTF agreement had been leaked earlier this year. According to the leaked document, the Indian military had the authority to remain in UTF for several years. The government has since dismissed the leaked document as a "forgery"; and has claimed that India would not be stationing military personnel, but rather would be stationing "technicians". The Vice Chief of Defence Force had claimed that the Indian personnel would only remain in the Maldives for a period of 14 years.
While the Vice Chief of Defence Force has described the UTF project as the construction and development of a harbour, it remains unclear why the presence of Indian personnel in a Maldivian military harbour for a period of 14 years is necessary.