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Opposition pledges to establish National Security Strategy

Fathmath Shaahunaz
11 September 2018, MVT 12:28
A close-up of an MNDF Marine's badge. PHOTO/MIHAARU
Fathmath Shaahunaz
11 September 2018, MVT 12:28

The opposition coalition has declared that it will establish a comprehensive National Security Strategy to safeguard the national interests of the Maldives, should the alliance win the upcoming Presidential Election slated for September 23.

Announcing the addition of a National Security Strategy and Defence Policy to the joint opposition's presidential manifesto, the coalition revealed that an opposition government will form a National Security Act, to be passed by the parliament, that will formulate the Maldives' first National Security Strategy.

According to the manifesto, the proposed National Security Strategy will give utmost priority to safeguarding the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty, and national interests of the Maldives. The strategy will follow a non-aligned foreign policy to ensure that Maldives does not encroach the security and strategic interests of neighbouring nations. The manifesto also assured that the strategy will not compromise the state religion of Islam and its principles, Maldivians' way of life, democratic institutions and human rights.

Furthermore, according to the joint opposition, the strategy will ensure fair judicial proceedings, a comprehensive social security system, and peace and social harmony in the nation.

Additionally, the manifesto stated that its defence policy will provide a stable and peaceful environment for citizens, ensure the safety and security of Maldives' Special Economic Zone (SEZ), and provide citizens with protection and security in case of disasters and emergencies. The Defence Policy also focusses on the need for efficient border control policies to control the influx of narcotics and illegal immigration.

On depoliticizing the military

The manifesto declared that in a coalition government, the Ministry of Defence and National Security will be the government agency responsible for implementing this policy, as per the Constitution. The government would also establish a National Security Council and National Command Authority under the proposed National Security Act, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will assure guidance on foreign policy and international security to the defence ministry.

Meanwhile, Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) will be the sole agency with military responsibilities for the practical implementation of the defence policy, as per the Constitution, according to the manifesto.

However, the manifesto noted that the defence ministry will have civilian command over MNDF and hold the responsibility of strategically directing the latter to implement the defence policy. Establishing MNDF as an agency under the control of civilian leadership will ensure that it will not be politicized, and corruption will be weeded out, assured the opposition coalition.

The manifesto also detailed plans to enhance the defence ministry and MNDF. The opposition stated that in its government, the ministry will be provided with competent professionals trained in Defence Management and National Security. Meanwhile MNDF will establish unified Combatant Commands in four geographical regions of Maldives, with the presence of Coast Guard to monitor the safety and security of Maldivian territories. The manifesto added that adequate resources will be provided to MNDF.

While the opposition has revealed its National Security Strategy and Defense Policy, some members of the ruling party and government had earlier alleged that the opposition was mulling to dissolve MNDF should they come to power.

However, the coalition's presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (Ibu) declared at a major opposition gathering on Saturday night that the police and military will not be given any unconstitutional orders in an opposition government. Instead, Ibu declared that the police and military will be professional forces that uphold constitutional and democratic values.

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