No Indian troops to remain on our island, not even in civilian clothing: Maldives president

Military exercise between the Indian Army and the Maldives National Defence Force in June 2023. [Photo: PIB]

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu has affirmed that no Indian military personnel, not even those in civilian clothing, would be present inside his country after May 10, PTI reported on Tuesday.

Muizzu’s statement comes less than a week after an Indian civilian team reached the Maldives to take charge of one of the three aviation platforms in the island nation, well ahead of the March 10 deadline agreed by the two nations for the withdrawal of Indian military personnel.

Addressing the residential community of Eydhafushi in the Baa atoll during his tour of the atoll, the President asserted that false rumors were being spread by those attempting to distort the reality of his government’s success in removing Indian troops from the country, as reported by news portal.

According to the portal, Muizzu,emphasized that there is no basis for beliefs that the Indian military personnel are not leaving, stating that such notions, suggesting they are returning in civilian attire, should not be entertained. He expressed confidence in declaring that by May 10, there will be no presence of Indian troops in the country, regardless of their attire, a statement made on the same day as the country signed an agreement with China for military aid.

In the preceding month, following a high-level meeting in Delhi on February 2, the Maldivian foreign ministry had announced that India would replace its military personnel operating in the Maldives by May 10, with the initial phase expected to conclude by March 10.

Muizzu, who came to power last year with an anti-India stance, reiterated similar sentiments in his first address to Parliament on February 5, demanding the removal of Indian personnel from the strategically positioned archipelago in the Indian Ocean. also reported that the first Indian military personnel expected to leave are those operating helicopters in Addu City, with others in Hanimaadhoo and Kahdhoo atolls also anticipated to depart before May 10. India had agreed to withdraw its troops under the condition that civilians, equivalent to the military presence, would operate the aircraft.

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