New Maldives President Requests Indian Troops to Leave
Mohamed Muizzu, the newly inaugurated president of the Maldives, has stated that he wants to ensure that there is no foreign military presence on the island nation’s soil. During a meeting with Indian Union Minister Kiren Rijiju, President Muizzu formally requested the withdrawal of Indian military personnel. According to Indian government sources, both sides have agreed to discuss “workable solutions” to continue the use of Indian military platforms by the Maldives, as they serve the interests of its people.
Currently, India has around 70 soldiers stationed in the Maldives, who operate radars and surveillance aircraft sponsored by India. Indian warships in the region also help patrol the country’s exclusive economic zone. President Muizzu acknowledged the significant role of two Indian helicopters in numerous emergency medical evacuations. These Indian soldiers have been stationed in the Maldives for several years, and their cooperation with the Maldives is based on jointly addressing shared challenges and priorities, as stated by the Ministry of External Affairs.
The Maldives, a small island nation with a population of about 500,000, has become a geopolitical hotspot due to its strategic significance in the Indian Ocean region and border tensions between India and China. Both countries have invested in development projects in the Maldives as part of their long-term geopolitical strategies. President Muizzu has expressed the desire to work together with both India and China but emphasized that the Maldives is “too small to be entangled in geopolitical rivalry.”
President Muizzu succeeds Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, whose tenure saw improved ties between the Maldives and India. Muizzu, who is close to former President Abdulla Yameen, had expressed the intention to strengthen ties with China if his party won the elections. However, he clarified that he does not intend to replace Indian military presence with Chinese troops. President Muizzu aims to strike a balance in the Maldives’ relations with both countries.
During his meeting with Union Minister Rijiju, President Muizzu discussed the progress of Indian-backed projects in the Maldives. The meeting concluded with a renewed commitment to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.
The request for the withdrawal of Indian troops by the Maldives’ new president highlights the evolving geopolitical dynamics in the region and the delicate balancing act required by small nations like the Maldives.