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Maldives asks India to withdraw its military presence by March 15

By Akshay - January 14, 2024 06:23 PM

Maldives asks India to withdraw its military presence by March 15: Muizzu's proposal comes just days after his return from China. The pro-China President of Maldives had fought his election last year on an anti-India issue. Soon after coming to power, he formally asked New Delhi to withdraw its troops from Maldives.

Amid the diplomatic row with India, Maldives President Mohammed Muizzu has proposed that New Delhi withdraw its military presence from the archipelagic nation before March 15. Muizzu's proposal comes just days after his return from China. The pro-China President of Maldives had fought his election last year on an anti-India issue. Soon after coming to power, he formally asked New Delhi to withdraw its troops from Maldives.

Currently, around 70 Indian troops are deployed in Maldives along with Dornier 228 maritime patrol aircraft and two HAL Dhruv helicopters. Removing Indian troops was the main campaign weapon of Muizzu's party.

Last month, government sources told India Today that the issue of troop withdrawal was briefly discussed during the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the President of Maldives on the sidelines of the COP28 climate summit in Dubai.

Immediately after assuming power, Muizzu stressed that he was strongly committed to ensuring that the Maldives remained "free" from any "foreign military presence" to maintain its independence and sovereignty. He said Maldives is too small to get caught up in geopolitical competition. He also said that he had no interest in interfering in the current foreign policy of Maldives. He had said, "Maldives is too small to get caught up in geopolitical rivalries. I have no interest in interfering in the country's foreign policy."

Relations between India and Maldives have deteriorated since Muizzu took power in Male. Bilateral relations further deteriorated after three deputy ministers of the island nation made derogatory remarks against PM Modi following his visit to the Indian island of Lakshadweep.

Following the comments, Indians hit back by boycotting the Maldives as a tourist destination. Responding to this, Muizzu had recently said that his country is small but 'cannot be threatened'.

Meanwhile, Muizzu's party has suffered a setback as opposition party candidate Adam Azim has won the Male mayor election. Azim's victory was described as a "landslide" and "a victory by a large margin". Azim, who is from the Maldivian Democratic Party, secured 5,303 votes out of 41 boxes counted, while his rival Aishath Azima Shakoor of the Muizzu People's National Congress (PNC) secured 3,301 votes.

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