The Maldives “will not entertain” private arms depots, Home Minister Umar Naseer has declared, after it emerged that a Malta based maritime security firm was planning to set up an armory in the remote north.
In a tweet on Tuesday night, Naseer said: “On behalf of the govt I confirm that there is NO arms depot in Uligamu. Govt will NOT entertain such a deal involving arms.”
A spokesman from Malta-based Marshall Consultants Group, the parent company for Safety at Sea Logistic (SASL), confirmed to The Maldives Independent plans to set up an armory on Uligan Island in Haa Alif Atoll. The depots will be supervised by the Maldives National Defence Forces (MNDF) and is aimed at catering to the demand for maritime security for ships transiting the Indian Ocean.
Operations will begin “as soon as we get permission. We haven’t got all the permissions yet,” the spokesman said.
The MNDF declined to comment while the Uligan Island Council stopped responding to queries.
Ibrahim Muaz Ali, the president’s office spokesman, in a tweet, also announced: “There is no foreign armory in the Maldives, and there has been no agreement with anyone to set up such a place.”
He also denounced speculation that the deal had been reached after Vice President Ahmed Adeeb carried a letter from President Abdulla Yameen to Maltese President Marie-Loiuse Coleiro Preca in August.
“In the letter to the President of Malta, President [Yameen] did not make any mention of an armory or anything related to that,” Muaz tweeted.
SASL is registered at the economic ministry in Malé and permitted to sell imported goods, according to publicly available records.
According to the company’s website and documents obtained by The Maldives Independent, SASL intends to set up both a floating armory and a land armory in Uligan. They are to be overseen by MNDF, and secured by 20-30 armed guards.
At present, ships transiting through the Maldives register with the MNDF in Malé and deposit any weapons with the state armory.
An expert said Uligan is better suited for transiting ships than Malé. As the Arabian Sea is prone to piracy, private maritime security services in the Maldives will be a lucrative trade.
SASL’s documents indicate it has been promised a monopoly over the services, while the MNDF would only have a limited role, the expert who was reluctant to give his name said.
The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) labeled the deal a “national security threat,” and called on the government to clarify if any negotiations had taken place on the deal and if the national security council that advises the president had deliberated on the matter.
Weekend roundup: Undocumented migrant workers fill up stadium
Thursday roundup: U-turn on impeachment of chief prosecutor
News in brief: mosquito traps and internet prices
Wednesday roundup: Chief justice challenges watchdog inquiry
News in brief: Single-parent allowance and tenants rights
Warehouse fire in Maldives capital claims one life
Maldives coral reefs show signs of resilience and recovery
Minivan Brief: Weaponised Islam and #MvTreeGrab
More than 400 people displaced in Malé warehouse fire
News in brief: 150kg of heroin seized en route to Maldives
Crime1 month ago
Immigration stopped 11 ‘imposters’ with fake passports
Crime3 months ago
Charges raised over street harassment for first time in Maldives
Crime3 months ago
Ex-vice president detained in India after fleeing Maldives
Politics2 months ago
‘Terrorist group’ behind Rilwan’s abduction
Society & Culture2 months ago
Five dead in tragic accident at sea
Politics2 months ago
Maldives backs India’s ‘right to amend laws as required’
Business & Tourism3 months ago
India becomes second largest market for Maldives tourism
Crime2 months ago
Rilwan killed by Maldives group linked to al-Qaeda, presidential commission reveals