Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu has asked India to withdraw its military personnel from the country by March 15. Abdulla Nazim Ibrahim, the public policy secretary at the President’s Office, stated, “Indian military personnel cannot stay in the Maldives. This is the policy of President Dr Mohamed Muizzu and that of this administration.”
A high-level core group, including Indian High Commissioner Munu Mahawar, has been set up by Maldives and India to negotiate the troop withdrawal. The first meeting took place at the Foreign Ministry Headquarters in Male’. The agenda for the meeting focused on the President’s request to withdraw troops by March 15.
The withdrawal request comes after President Muizzu, considered a pro-China leader, formally asked India to remove its military personnel soon after taking office on November 17.
This move follows a row between the two nations over derogatory comments made by three deputy ministers of the Muizzu government against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The three ministers were suspended after their social media posts drew concern in India.
President Muizzu, during a recent state visit to China, aimed to strengthen ties with Beijing. In an indirect reference to India, he stated, “We may be small, but that doesn’t give you the license to bully us.”
He announced plans to reduce dependency on India by exploring alternative sources for essential commodities and vowed not to allow external influence on the Maldives’ domestic affairs.
“We aren’t in anyone’s backyard. We are an independent and sovereign state,” he said.
Muizzu further asserted that no country has the right to exert influence over the domestic affairs of another country, regardless of its size.
The Maldives is also reviewing over 100 bilateral agreements with India signed by the previous government.