President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, on Tuesday, ratified recent amendments that nullified foreign ownership of land in Maldives.
Maldives' Constitution previously outlawed the ownership of land in the country, by any foreign nationals. However, during former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's administration, an amendment was bought introducing a chapter that allowed foreign ownership of Maldivian land.
Proposed by former Villimale' MP Ahmed Nihan Manik, this amendment was passed on July 22, 2015, allowing those who invest USD 1 billion by reclaiming land in Maldives, to own a part of it.
The earlier foreign ownership amendment was passed following a vote amongst 70 parliament members, including those from Jumhooree Party and then opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). Only 14 members voted against the amendment.
Article 251 of the constitution states that "no foreign party, shall own or be given ownership of any part of the territory of the Maldives".
However, to incorporate the amendments, Yameen's administration added the 15th chapter containing Articles 302 to 309, and altered Article 251, quoting the circumstances mentioned in Chapter 15 as an exception.
The new amendment ratified by President Solih annuls this chapter entirely. Therefore, no foreign parties will be allowed to own land in Maldivian territory from April 23, 2019. Moreover, the law initially allowed the leasing of land to a foreign party for a maximum period of 99 years.
Nullifying the foreign ownership amendment was part of President Solih's presidential election pledges.