Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid has said that the helicopters and Dornier airplanes gifted by the Indian government were handed over during the time of previous governments. He said that the number of soldiers brought to operate the vehicles and their roles have not been changed by the current government.
The opposition has aimed serious accusations against the government of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih regarding relations with India. They have accused that a large number of Indian soldiers have been brought in and are stationed in various regions of the Maldives in the name of operating aircraft, and that these soldiers have power and authority over Maldivian defense forces.
Minister Shahid gave an interview to Mihaaru News regarding these accusations and said that the first helicopter was brought in to the Maldives from India in 2011 during the time of former president Mohamed Nasheed, and the second helicopter was brought in during the government of former president Abdulla Yameen.
"The first helicopter was brought in to the Maldives from India in 2011, during the time of the president Nasheed. The number of people stationed in Maldives to oversee the helicopter is the same as the numbers specified in the agreement that was signed at that time. They are still here," said minister Shahid.
Minister Shahid said that the agreements signed to bring in the helicopters and the aircraft has not been changed by this government.
"The people who were here since 2011 are still here. The helicopter has not changed. The number of people have not changed. What has changed is the government," said minister Shahid.
He said the aircraft was used then to airlift patients and oversee the sea area of the country, and he does not understand any reason why this has suddenly become wrong.
He said that in a small country such as the Maldives, military exercises and training are usually conducted jointly in collaboration with foreign countries. He said that obtaining assistance through another country's military resources is internationally accepted across the world.
Minister Shahid expressed that he does not believe any government should view seeking assistance from Indian military vehicles as wrong.
"Seeing it as the right thing at that time and then blaming and accusing us with the change of government does not make sense, right? There is no truth in this. When they have nothing to say, instead of lying this is done for the purpose of spreading discord," the minister said.
He said it is extremely sad that people who were actively involved in previous governments and therefore knew the truth would come out now and tell blatant lies.
Minister Shahid said that the people of the Maldives have "sharper" minds and know better than to fall into the trap of lies spread by the opposition.