Indian Forces To Leave Maldives By May 10, Mohamed Muizzu Informs Parliament

Malé: Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu, on Monday informed the Parliament that the initial contingent of Indian troops will be sent back before March 10, maintaining his stance that is critical of India.

Muizzu emphasized his commitment to safeguarding the freedom and sovereignty of the Maldivian people, reaffirming promises made during his pre-election campaign. He further stated that the remaining two contingents of Indian forces manning two aviation platforms would exit the island nation by May 10.

“As per the most recent discussions, military personnel on one of the three aviation platforms will be recalled before March 10, 2024. The military personnel on the remaining two platforms will also be recalled by May 10, 2024,” news agency PTI quoted Muizzu.

The primary opposition parties, MDP and Democrats, opted to abstain from President Muizzu’s address. The speech saw an attendance from only 24 members of parliament, with 56 choosing not to participate.

The removal of Indian troops from the Maldives was a key commitment in Muizzu’s electoral pledges. Muizzu is recognised for his inclination towards China.

During his presidential address, he mentioned that he assumed office based on the commitment to, “withdraw foreign troops from Maldives, recover the lost part of Maldives seas and cancel any agreement made by the state that could undermine Maldives sovereignty.”

According to a report on Sun Online, Muizzu also declared his intention to enhance the capability of the Maldives military to effectively patrol the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around the clock.

Following discussions with New Delhi last week, the Maldives foreign ministry had said that an agreement was reached between the two parties. It was decided that India would substitute military personnel in one of the three aviation platforms by March 10, 2024.

India had long been the Maldives’ closest ally until Muizzu came into office. The strain between India and the Maldives escalated last month when a minister from the Maldives made critical comments about Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding his visit to Lakshadweep. India formally registered a protest with the Maldives government. Numerous celebrities took to X, urging the public to refrain from visiting the country, which heavily relies on tourism for its economy. In just three weeks after the calls for boycotting, India emerged as the Maldives’ fifth-largest market.

During a visit to China last month, Muizzu appealed to the communist nation to increase tourist arrivals—a statement interpreted as a move targeting India amid the boycott appeals.

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