Maldives gives Indian troops March 15 deadline to leave country


The Maldives has given India a deadline of March 15 to withdraw its troops from the Muslim-majority island nation.

This news was revealed in a media conference on Sunday delivered by Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu’s public policy secretary Abdulla Nazim Ibrahim.

“Indian military personnel cannot stay in the Maldives. This is the policy of President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu and that of this administration,” said the presidential secretary.

Muizzu previously told a news conference on Saturday that the Maldives was not “any one particular country’s backyard.”

“We are an independent and sovereign country,” he replied to questions by reporters at Velana International Airport after a trop to China. “We might be a small country, but that does not give you the license to bully us,” Muizzu asserted.

Male initially made the demand after Muizzu was elected president of the country, located in the Indian Ocean, late last year.

Officials from the Maldives and India, including New Delhi’s top diplomat in Male, Munu Mahawar, were holding negotiations on Sunday on the withdrawal of Indian troops, Ibrahim said.

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A total of 88 Indian military personnel are present in the Maldives, according to Sun News, a news website based in the capital Male, citing government figures.

New Delhi says they are there to maintain and operate two helicopters and an aircraft it donated to the country. But throughout his election campaign, Muizzu pledged to remove those troops from the Maldives.

Muizzu, who backs closer ties between the Maldives and China, defeated the incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who is widely perceived as pro-India, late last year.

New Delhi enjoyed cosy ties with Male under President Solih, and poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the tourist hot spot. New Delhi also financed infrastructure projects, both big and small, in the country.

Analysts say the change of guard in Male could present an opportunity for not just Beijing but also Chinese investors.


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