Will Lead Maldives To Have No

Will Lead Maldives To Have No “Foreign” Military Presence, Says President Mohamed Muizzu

Will Lead Maldives To Have No 'Foreign' Military Presence, Says President

Currently, 88 Indian military personnel are in the Maldives (File)

President Mohamed Muizzu on Wednesday said by bolstering the defence capabilities of the Maldives, the country will soon reach a point where there is no “foreign” military presence, weeks after he sought the withdrawal of Indian defence personnel from the archipelago nation.

The statement comes a day after Muizzu, who rode to power on anti-India posturing, 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.

In his first presidential speech on Monday, Muizzu, widely seen as a pro-China leader, had said the first group of Indian military personnel will be sent back from the Maldives before March 10 and the remaining manning two aviation platforms will be withdrawn before May 10.

Currently, 88 Indian military personnel are in the Maldives primarily to operate two helicopters and an aircraft that have carried out hundreds of medical evacuations and humanitarian missions.

The Indian platforms have been providing humanitarian and medical evacuation services to the people of the Maldives for the last few years.

On Wednesday, a member of the public on the ‘Raees ge Javaabu’ series, a platform that enables the public to get direct responses to their queries from the President via social media, asked Muizzu on the efforts underway to expel foreign military troops in the Maldives, Sun.mv, a news portal, reported.

“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,” Muizzu said.

Noting that all efforts necessary to expel the Indian military troops based in the Maldives officially commenced on the day he assumed office (November 17, 2023), Muizzu said discussions, in this trajectory, were proceeding at a speedy pace in accordance with the principles of diplomacy.

“Hopefully, military personnel in one aviation platform will be withdrawn by March 10th and the military personnel in the remaining platforms during May,” the news portal said, quoting Muizzu.

He said the current efforts relate to increasing the capabilities of Maldivians, adding efforts are underway to make arrangements for Maldivians to independently undertake medical evacuation of emergency patients and the surveillance of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the report said.

Expelling the Indian troops based in the Maldives was an electoral pledge for Muizzu as he won against pro-India incumbent in the September 2023 run-off.

The Maldivian government has reported that there are 88 Indian military personnel in Maldives for the operation and maintenance of helicopters and Dornier aircrafts donated by the Indian government. The current government here is also reviewing more than 100 bilateral agreements signed with India by previous administrations.

On Tuesday, during an engagement with residents of Veymandoo on his official visit to Kolhumadulu Atoll, the President had announced that the Maldives will assume sole regulation of the Exclusive Economic Zones shortly.

“Planning for this endeavour is currently underway, and the President assured that execution will proceed promptly without any delay,” a statement from Muizzu’s office said on Tuesday.

The President also announced plans to enhance the Maldives’ capabilities for conducting underwater surveys, emphasising that Maldivians aspire to conduct scanning and mapping activities within their territory, the statement said.

Incidentally, Maldives had on January 23 permitted China’s Xiang Yang Hong 03, a vessel equipped to carry research and surveys, to dock at Male port, saying the halt was for replenishment and that the research vessel would not be conducting any research while in the Maldivian waters.

Earlier, Sri Lanka had banned the repeated visits of Chinese research vessels to its Hambantota port following concerns expressed by India about their nature of research, especially the mapping of the Indian Ocean floor for military purposes besides spying on India’s defence facilities.

The Indian defence establishment said New Delhi is keeping a close watch on the movement of the Chinese ship. 

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)