The Edition


Main opposition seeks to prevent foreign states owning land in Maldives

Fathmath Shaahunaz
23 February 2017, MVT 15:10
MDP secretary general Anas (C) flanked by lawmakers Rozaina Adam (R) and Imthiyaz Fahmy during a press conference. MIHAARU PHOTO
Fathmath Shaahunaz
23 February 2017, MVT 15:10

The parliamentary group of main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) on Wednesday decided to seek changes to the amendments brought to the Constitution which authorise the government to sell lands to foreign states.

Maafannu North MP and MDP spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy declared Thursday that the opposition party will submit a bill to the parliament to thwart the government’s “foul plan” to sell off Faafu atoll. The bill will seek to overturn the previous amendment to the Constitution and establish strict regulations to prevent the sale of Maldivian lands to external entities.

MP Imthiyaz vowed that MDP will take every stance possible to prevent the sale of Faafu atoll. In response to an inquiry regarding the probability of passing the bill, considering that ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) holds the parliament majority, Imthiyaz assured that the bill will be passed regardless.

Three quarters of the parliament must vote in favour to bring any changes to the Constitution of the Maldives, which is currently 63 members out of total 85.

The members of parliament are currently divided as:

PPM: 48 members

MDP: 21 members

Jumhoory Party: 7 members

Maldives Development Alliance (MDA): 6 members

Adhaalath Party: 1 member

Independent lawmakers: 2 members

Ruling PPM and its coalition partner MDA are as of now the only government aligned political parties, while the rest are opposition.

The current amendment to the Constitution allowing foreign entities to own Maldivian lands was passed in 2015 with votes from government aligned members and some members of MDP. The opposition members that had voted in favour of the amendment had done so under an alleged “deal” with the government, which had brought down the wrath of MDP’s common members on them.

Describing the government’s actions to sell Faafu atoll as “dangerous and furtive”, MP Imthiyaz added that the state withholding details of the project from the atoll’s residents is also causing much anxiety to the public.

Meanwhile, some ministers and lawmakers of PPM have denied the circulating rumours that the government plans to sell parts of Faafu atoll to the royal family of Saudi Arabia, assuring that the atoll will not be sold to any foreign states. According to one PPM lawmaker, the government is planning to conduct a huge development project “previously unseen in the Maldives” in Faafu atoll.

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom had also mentioned last month that Saudi Arabia will undertake a major development project in Faafu atoll. In a speech he gave in Magoodhoo island of the atoll, President Yameen stated that the project will open Faafu atoll to the world and create a range of new jobs. The president said the government is looking to bring integrated tourism to Faafu atoll.