The statement given by the representatives of the Ministry of Defence to the Parliament Committee on National Security Services regarding the Uthuru Thila Falhu (UTF) agreement indicates that the draft agreement, leaked earlier this year, had been authentic.
During a session of the Parliament Committee held today, officials of the Ministry of Defence had stated that the agreement contains 13 clauses. It is notable that the leaked draft contains 12 clauses.
In addition, the officials of the Ministry of Defence stated that the development of the UTF facilities would be conducted by a Maldivian-Indian Joint Committee. They stated that how the work would be carried out is defined in the 5th clause of the agreement. They said that the highest-ranking Maldivian member of the Joint Committee would be the Chief of Defence Force, and two other members nominated by the government. The officials stated that the government had nominated Brig. Gen. Hamid Shafeeg, and Col. Mohamed Saleem.
The leaked draft agreement also defined the Joint Committee in the 5th clause. The leaked document also stated that the highest-ranking Indian member of the Joint Commission would be the Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives and two other members nominated by the Indian government.
There were many other similarities between the leaked document and the information disclosed by MNDF at today's committee session.
Although the session of the Committee had taken place behind closed doors, a technical mishap had caused a long duration of the session to be broadcast live via YouTube. The Majlis Secretariat has since removed the recording of the session from the Majlis' official YouTube channel. A participant in the session told TMJ that there "was not much of a difference" between the official agreement copy and the leaked agreement. According to the source, the only differences were "durations and expressions", but the "general gist of both documents was the same".
The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) had held a press conference soon after the draft copy had been leaked, and Maj. Gen. Abdullah Shamal; Chief of Defence Force; had claimed that the draft copy had "no truth to it, and was baseless".
However, based on the statements made by the Ministry of Defence and the documents produced at the session, it appears that the draft copy and the official signed copy are largely similar.