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The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party today welcomed the postponement of the Saudi king's visit to the Maldives, saying there was a growing public outrage over President Abdulla Yameen's attempts to sell an atoll to the royal family.
"With growing public outrage and strong opposition to President Yameen's attempts to sell-off Faafu atoll to the Saudi Royal Family, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) feels that the time is not right for the royal visit," the party said in a statement released in Sri Lankan capital Colombo.
An audio recording was leaked in which ruling party parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nihan was heard reportedly saying that President Yameen's intention was to sell Faafu islands and lagoons to Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman who would own the islands in perpetuity.
Nilhan had claimed that Saudi Arabia was secretly behind President Yameen's decision to change the Constitution in 2015 in order to allow foreigners to own land in the Maldives.
The MDP, which views the Faafu project as a fundamental threat to Maldivian sovereignty and independence, has urged Saudi Arabia and the Saudi royal family to completely pull out of the Faafu atoll project.
King Salman, who has already visited Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Japan during his ongoing Asia tour, was due to arrive in the Maldives tomorrow.
The Maldives government said the Saudi king cancelled the visit due to an outbreak of swine flu in Male.