Maldives’ incoming president wants Indian troops to leave from its soil, says no country allowed to do it
Mohamed Muizzu, who will take over as the president in November, leads a party that welcomed Chinese loans and oversaw a wide-ranging crackdown on dissent when it was in power about five years ago.
The Maldives’ president-elect Mohamed Muizzu (Photo by MOHAMED AFRAH/AFP via Getty Images)
THE archipelagic state of the Maldives will ask Indian troops stationed on its soil to leave, the country’s president-elect Mohamed Muizzu has said, sending across a message that China may be the beneficiary of the new development.
A former mayor of Male, Maldives’ capital, Muizzu carried out a heated campaign during the presidential election in September during which he accused incumbent president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of allowing New Delhi unchecked sway over the island-nation’s internal affairs and surrendering its sovereignty by letting Indian troops to be posted there.
“It happens to be Indian foreign military presence here,” Muizzu, 45, said in a wide-ranging interview to Bloomberg TV. He added that he would have reacted in the same way if the troops were of any other country.
The Maldives have a strategic location in the Indian Ocean where both India and China vie for influence.
Around 70 Indian military personnel in the Maldives maintain Delhi-sponsored radar stations and surveillance aircraft while Indian warships patrol the island-nation’s exclusive economic zone.
The president-elect, who will take office on November 17, said he has already started talks with the Indian government on withdrawing its military and called the talks “very successful already”.
He also said that the Maldives want a bilateral relationship that is mutually beneficial and assured that the Indian soldiers will not be replaced by those from other nations. It doesn’t indicate that he would allow China or any other country to bring their military forces to the Maldives.
Muizzu, who was once the Maldives’ housing minister, leads a party that welcomed Chinese loans and oversaw a wide-ranging crackdown on dissent when it was in power last, about five years ago.
India has said that it intends to work with the new government of the Maldives even as it watches the new president-elect’s moves warily.
“We look forward to constructively engaging with the incoming administration and discussing ways to enhance our relationship further,” Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for India’s ministry of external affairs, told reporters last week.