The opposition Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) has accused the current government of engaging in a “huge scam” through the purchase of military drones at “high prices.” These drones, acquired to monitor the nation’s economic zone, are alleged by the MDP to be a scheme to funnel funds into the upcoming parliamentary election campaign.

This accusation comes after the government, led by President Mohammed Muizzu, introduced military drones into the Maldives’ defence arsenal, marking a significant enhancement in the country’s national security and surveillance capabilities. The drones, which are Turkish-made, were inspected by President Muizzu during his inaugural visit to Turkey after assuming office. Despite the drones having been delivered to the Maldives and stationed at Maafaru Airport in Noonu Atoll, details of the deal remain undisclosed.

The MDP’s parliamentary campaign spokesperson and Kendhikulhudhoo MP Ahmed Easa highlighted these concerns during a press conference. Easa questioned the procurement process, which was not included in the budget and instead financed through the contingency budget, hinting at ulterior motives related to the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

Easa also pointed out the necessity of monitoring the country’s waters for the welfare of the population, particularly fishermen, and claimed that the previous MDP government had initiated efforts to acquire drone technology free of charge from a friendly nation. These efforts included conducting studies on the use of drones and discussions with potential providers, which were abruptly halted due to the change in government. The swift move by President Muizzu to secure a deal with Turkey, bypassing established procurement protocols, has raised suspicions of financial impropriety aimed at supporting the ruling party’s election campaign, according to the MDP.

The introduction of military drones had initially been portrayed as a stride towards bolstering the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) with modern platforms and equipment for defending the nation across terrestrial, aerial, and maritime domains. However, the opposition’s allegations introduce a layer of political controversy, casting shadows over the motivations behind the drone acquisition and its financial implications.

As the political landscape in the Maldives becomes increasingly contentious ahead of parliamentary elections, the debate over the drone purchase underscores the complex interplay between allegation and sound scrutiny, between political rivals. 

The government’s refusal to disclose details of the drone agreement further fuels speculation and calls for transparency in defence procurement and election financing.