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Business News/ News / World/  ‘No Indian troops to remain in Maldives, not even in civilian clothing,’ says president Mohamed Muizzu
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‘No Indian troops to remain in Maldives, not even in civilian clothing,’ says president Mohamed Muizzu

Maldives president says no Indian troops to remain on his island, not even in civilian clothing

Maldives' President Mohamed Muizzu. (Photo by Ryan LIM / AFP) (File) (AFP)Premium
Maldives' President Mohamed Muizzu. (Photo by Ryan LIM / AFP) (File) (AFP)

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu has escalated his anti-India stance, declaring that no Indian military personnel, including those in civilian attire, will be permitted in his country after May 10, as reported by the media on Tuesday.

As reported by PTI, this announcement from Muizzu follows closely after an Indian civilian team arrived in the Maldives to assume control of one of the three aviation platforms in the island nation. 

his move occurred well ahead of the agreed-upon March 10 deadline for the withdrawal of Indian military personnel, heightening tensions between the two nations.

Also Read: After asking India to withdraw troops, Maldives signs free military assistance deal with China

Addressing the Baa atoll Eydhafushi residential community during his tour across the atoll, the President stated that due to his government’s success in expelling Indian troops from the country, people who spread false rumours, are attempting to twist the situation, a news portal Edition.mv reported.

“That these people [Indian military] are not departing, that they are returning after changing their uniforms into civilian clothing. We must not indulge such thoughts that instil doubts in our hearts and spread lies," the portal quoted Muizzu, widely regarded as a pro-China leader, as saying.

“There will be no Indian troops in the country come May 10. Not in uniform and not in civilian clothing. The Indian military will not be residing in this country in any form of clothing. I state this with confidence," he said, on a day when his country signed an agreement with China to receive free military aid.

Also Read: EAM Jaishankar takes dig at Maldives amid ‘big bully’ claims, says, ‘Big bullies don't provide $4.5 bn to neighbours’

Following a meeting held in Delhi on February 2, where high-level discussions took place between the Maldivian and Indian authorities, the Maldivian foreign ministry announced that India would substitute its military personnel managing the three aviation platforms in the Maldives by May 10.

Additionally, it was outlined that the initial stage of this transition would be accomplished by March 10. It is to be noted that during his inaugural address to Parliament on February 5, the Maldives President reiterated similar sentiments.

There are 88 military personnel manning the three Indian platforms that have been providing humanitarian and medical evacuation services to the people of the Maldives for the last few years using two helicopters and a Dornier aircraft.

Also Read: India-Maldives row: Why does Maldives want Indian troops out | Explainer

Muizzu rode to power last year on an anti-India stance and within hours of taking oath demanded India to remove its personnel from the strategically located archipelago in the Indian Ocean.

Edition.mv further reported that while the first troops to depart the country are the Indian military personnel operating the two helicopters in Addu City, the military personnel present in Haa Dhaalu atoll Hanimaadhoo and Laamu atoll Kahdhoo are also expected to leave ahead of May 10.

India had agreed to remove their troops from Maldives under the condition that a number of their civilians equivalent to the military presence are brought to operate the aircraft.

The Opposition has been directing criticism at the administration asserting that the Indian personnel sent to Maldives as civilians are in reality military officials out of uniform and that the government has no way to ascertain otherwise, the portal claimed.

Also Read: Maldives' ex-Minister calls President Mohamed Muizzu 'immature': 'He is slowly realising...'

At the same time, local media sources have reported that the Maldives has established a partnership with Sri Lanka to operate flights for medical evacuations. This development underscores the country's determination to remove all Indian troops, regardless of their classification.

Further highlighting that securing true independence is a concept he regards with utmost priority, the President remarked that the State is exerting efforts with due importance “to regain the southern maritime area deprived of the country in addition to expelling Indian troops from the Maldives."

“I am confident we can achieve this. The delay in concluding this task is due to the adverse procedures practised during the implementation. It was done without even taking the matter to the parliament ... in violation of the Constitution as well," the portal quoted the President as saying.

Also Read: Indian Troops in Maldives: Former minister says President Muizzu is a liar, ‘There are no…’

Given its close proximity to India, with just 70 nautical miles separating it from the island of Minicoy in Lakshadweep and 300 nautical miles from the western coast of mainland India, the Maldives holds considerable strategic significance. Situated at the heart of commercial sea routes traversing the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), it plays a pivotal role in regional dynamics.

The Maldives has long been regarded as a crucial maritime neighbour for India within the IOR framework. It occupies a special position in Indian initiatives such as SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and the Neighbourhood First Policy, reflecting the depth of bilateral ties and mutual interests in the region.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Published: 05 Mar 2024, 12:21 PM IST
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