A new youth group has joined a new campaign calling for a referendum on a constitutional amendment that allows foreigners to own land in the Maldives for the first time.
The Youth Integrity Network (YIN) called on President Abdulla Yameen to revoke the amendment last night and joined hands with youth movement Heylaa [Awake] in organizing a rally on Friday (August 7).
Speaking to Maldives Independent YIN’s President Aik Ahmed Easa stated that the network’s main concern was that foreign parties may be able to own large parts of land in Maldives while “the fact is that Maldivian territory does not only belong to its current inhabitants but also belongs to the generations to come”.
“We have done research on history and also the bill itself, we do not believe that such a bill at such a time like this would benefit us, it could spell disaster for us,” Aik said.
According to YIN’s Facebook Page the network aims to empower youth, fight against corruption, and advocate for good governance, justice and transparency. Participants who attended a democracy camp held by local NGO Transparency Maldives founded it in February.
The land amendment will allow foreigners who invest more than US$1 billion to own plots of land within the project site. At least 70 percent of the project site must also be reclaimed land.
Expressing concern over the requirement of the law to reclaim 70 percent of the owned land area, Aik stated that this means “dumping sand on the reefs, which will adversely affect our tourism and fishing industry”.
The rally on Friday is aimed at raising awareness regarding the implications of foreign parties owning land in Maldives, he said. Further details of the event will be revealed this week.
Heylaa, which describes itself as a non-partisan youth movement, has said that a large majority of the public opposed the amendment and has urged President Yameen to use his constitutional authority to call for a referendum on the matter.
The amendment to the constitution allowing foreign ownership of land in Maldives was passed with overwhelming multi-party support, just a day after it was first submitted to the People’s Majlis.
The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives had amended parliamentary standing orders to fast track the process of passing a bill into law.
The opposition backed the amendment in the hopes of freedom for jailed politicians, including former President Mohamed Nasheed. The deal did not succeed.