November 20, 2023
NEW DELHI – A day after taking oath as the new Maldives President, Dr Mohamed Muizzu has formally asked India to withdraw its military personnel from the Maldivian soil, according to press release issued by the office of Maldives President.
The formal request was made by the new President Dr Mohamed Muizzu during his meeting with the Minister of Earth Sciences of India, Kiren Rijiju, at the President’s Office earlier today.
Rijiju was India’s representative at the inauguration of the Maldives’ new leader. The Indian side, according to the release, has said that both countries will try to find a”workable solution”.
Removal of Indian troops from the Maldivian soil was Muizzu’s key election promise. After winning the elections, he had reiterated his stand and said that the issue will be his top priority after taking oath.
After taking oath on Friday, Muizzu said that he was firmly committed to ensuring that Maldives remain free from any foreign military presence to preserve the country’s independence and sovereignty.
The new Maldives leader is seen as pro-China leader. He has also expressed his intent to build a close relationship with Beijing.
Last month, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had said that New Delhi’s cooperation with Maldives is based on “jointly addressing shared challenges and priorities.”
“The assistance and platforms that we have provided have contributed significantly in areas like people’s welfare, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and combating illegal maritime activities. Over the last five years, more than 500 medical evacuations have been carried out by our personnel, saving 523 Maldivian lives. Of these, 131 evacuations were carried out this year, another 140 last year, and a further 109 in 2021. Similarly, during the last five years, more than 450 multifaceted missions have been carried out to safeguard the maritime security of Maldives.
“Of these, 122 missions were carried out last year, while the 152 and 124 missions were undertaken in 2021 and 2020 respectively. India has also been the first responder for Maldives in any disaster scenario, including most recently during COVID,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said.