No armed foreign forces in the Maldives, Defense Ministry assures

The Defense Ministry has said no armed foreign military personnel are stationed anywhere in the Maldives.

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 base where the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF)'s Coast Guard dock and dockyard are being developed.

Indirectly referring to statements made by former President of the Maldives and opposition leader Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom at an 'India Out' rally held in ADH. Mahibadhoo on Friday, the press release said his statements had no basis and was intended to create unrest among the people. The Defense Ministry noted MNDF designed the dock and dockyard in UTF for its needs and to increase the capacity of MNDF. The two are in 100 percent control of the State, it said.

'Statements that allege UTF to be a foreign military base is simply untrue,' the ministry said in their statement.

In Yameen's speech delivered in Mahibadhoo, he warned that agreements between the Maldivian and Indian governments were extremely dangerous. He disclosed that one such agreement allowed Indian military vessels to enter Maldivian waters without clearance. Informing the government that a vessel was incoming was the only formality required, he said.

Yameen also said an agreement with India allows weapons to be brought into the Maldives without limit. He challenged Defense Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi and the Chief of Defense Force Majo General Abdulla Shamaal to deny the statement.

The ministry's press release responded to these allegations and said issuing diplomatic clearance to foreign vessels entering the Maldives was a sovereign right.

'For this reason, 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 ministry said.

The press release further requested not to tarnish the name of military officers and said MNDF would ensure that the country's peace and order is maintained.