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regular-article-logo Sunday, 26 May 2024

Second batch of Indian military personnel leaves Maldives: President Muizzu

Muizzu, a pro-China leader, also reaffirmed that foreign ambassadors in Male will not wield authority over him emphasising that ultimate power rests with the citizens

PTI Male Published 14.04.24, 02:43 PM
Mohamed Muizzu

Mohamed Muizzu File photo

The second batch of Indian military personnel manning a helicopter gifted by India to the Maldives has left the island nation as demanded by him, President Mohamed Muizzu has said.

Muizzu, a pro-China leader, also reaffirmed that foreign ambassadors in Male will not wield authority over him emphasising that ultimate power rests with the citizens.

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Last month, he had alleged that his predecessor Ibrahim Mohamed Solih operated on the orders from "a foreign ambassador" without naming any country.

He announced the withdrawal of the second Indian military contingent from the Maldives while speaking during a campaign event for the ruling People's National Congress party candidates ahead of the parliamentary elections scheduled for April 21.

"The first team has already gone. Now, on April 9, the soldiers on the second platform have also been withdrawn," Muizzu, who has been demanding the withdrawal of foreign soldiers from the Maldives during his election campaign last year, was quoted as saying by the local media on Saturday.

Muizzu had set March 10 as the deadline for the withdrawal of the first group of Indian military personnel from his country.

Under an agreement between Maldives and India in February, New Delhi agreed to replace the Indian military personnel stationed in Maldives to oversee the operations of the military aircraft the country has gifted with trained civilians also from India.

Muizzu also said the Indian soldiers on the last aviation platform would also leave the Maldives before May 10 deadline set by him and that would mark the fulfillment of his pledge to remove Indian soldiers from the island nation.

"There is only one platform left. As the two countries have already signed, they [the remaining Indian military personnel] will also be recalled ahead of May 10. They will leave," Muizzu was quoted as saying by Edition.mv news portal on Saturday.

He did not provide details of the number of the second batch of Indian military personnel who have left the Maldives. He also did not clarify whether the soldiers had been replaced by trained Indian civilians.

Neither the Maldives Defence Ministry nor India have commented on the latest withdrawal of Indian military personnel from this country.

According to the Maldives government, 88 Indian soldiers were stationed in the Maldives to operate helicopters in Addu and Laamu Kadhdhoo and a Dornier aircraft in Hanimaadhoo. The figure also includes doctors at the Senahiya military hospital, according to local media reports.

The first group of Indian soldiers left the Maldives on March 11. The Defence Ministry said 26 soldiers based in Addu were replaced by 26 Indian civilians. India also replaced the old helicopter in Addu with a new one.

Relations between Maldives and India have deteriorated since Muizzu came to power in November last year while closer ties are maintained with China. He also travelled to China in January and met top Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping.

China and the Maldives recently signed a defence cooperation agreement and several other infrastructure development projects.

The Maldives is India’s key maritime neighbour in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and occupies a special place in its initiatives like ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and the ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’ of the Indian government.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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