Mohamed Muizzu: The removal of Indian troops from the Maldives was one of Mohamed Muizzu’s primary election promises, as he is known to favor China.
Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu informed Parliament on Monday that the first set of Indian troops would leave before March 10. He recalled his pre-election vows, saying he would preserve the Maldivians’ freedom and sovereignty. He further stated that the remaining two Indian contingents would leave the island nation by May 10. The removal of Indian troops from the Maldives was one of Mohamed Muizzu’s primary election promises, as he is renowned for favoring China, an economic and strategic competitor.
In his presidential speech, he stated that he assumed office with a commitment to “remove foreign troops from Maldives, reclaim lost portions of Maldives seas, and annul any agreements that might compromise the sovereignty of Maldives.” According to a report by Sun Online, Mohamed Muizzu declared his intention to enhance the capability of the Maldives military to oversee the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) round the clock. He claimed that the Maldivian people’s interests are the top priority in the operation of his government.
Muizzu cites the ‘sovereignty’ vow and mentions India in the Maldives parliamentary address.
At least 56 MPs, including 44 MPs from the MDP and 13 MPs from the Democrats, abstained from his speech in protest of the “undemocratic ways of the government”. He was lately charged by the two parties of having an anti-Indian tilt. Following a meeting with New Delhi last week, the Maldives’ foreign ministry said that India has committed to replacing military personnel on one of the three aviation platforms by March 10, 2024.
India had been the Maldives’ closest ally for several decades until Muizzu came into power. Last month, tensions between India and the Maldives rose when the latter’s minister made critical remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lakshadweep tour. India had issued a formal protest to the Maldives administration. Several celebrities posted on X, urging the public to boycott the country, whose economy heavily depends on tourism.
Within three weeks of the boycott demands, India had risen to the fifth largest Maldivian market from third. Muizzu visited China last month and requested the communist country to send in more tourists, a remark that was interpreted as aimed at India in light of the boycott calls.