Maldives will reach point of no foreign military troops soon: President Muizzu

Weeks after a diplomatic row soured India-Maldives relations, Indian military personnel have a deadline for withdrawal from the island nation. The first group of Indian military personnel will be sent back from the Maldives before March 10, while the remaining Indian troops manning two aviation platforms will be withdrawn by May 10. Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu said that the target is to lead the nation to the point of having no foreign military presence in the country.

When Mohammed Muizzu had won the presidential election in November 2023, he had promised to remove Indian troops from the island nation.

Around 90 Indian military personnel maintain New Delhi-sponsored radar stations and surveillance aircraft. Indian warships help patrol Maldives’ exclusive economic zone.

In January, a diplomatic row over Maldivian politicians’ derogatory remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Lakshadweep led to the strain in bilateral ties between the two nations. In the aftermath, President Mohamed Muizzu, who is widely seen as a pro-China leader, doubled down on his anti-India posturing.

“We may be small, but that doesn’t give you the licence to bully us,” Muizzu said just days after the controversy erupted.

Just last week, the Maldives’ government formally requested the Indian government to provide “comprehensive details” of an incident in which its coast guard personnel allegedly boarded three Maldivian fishing vessels operating within its economic zone.

Muizzu recently declared that the Maldives will maintain autonomous control over all its territories, including maritime, aerial, and terrestrial domains apart from enhancing Maldives’ capabilities for conducting underwater surveys.

On Wednesday, President Muizzu was asked about the efforts underway to expel foreign military troops in the Maldives, as per local media reports. In response, Muizzu said, “I am assuring the people that the Maldives will be led to a point where there aren’t any foreign military troops in the country.”

Notably, on January 23, the Maldives granted permission for the Chinese research vessel Xiang Yang Hong 03 to dock at Male port. The vessel, designed for research and surveys, was allowed to halt for replenishment purposes, with assurances that no research activities would take place in Maldivian waters during its stay.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, had imposed a ban on the frequent visits of Chinese research vessels to its Hambantota port. This decision stemmed from concerns raised by India regarding the nature of the research, particularly the mapping of the Indian Ocean floor for potential military purposes and intelligence gathering on India’s defense facilities.

(With inputs from PTI)

Published On:

Feb 7, 2024

Leave a Comment