In his first Parliament speech, Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu on Monday reiterated his anti-India stance, asserting that the nation won’t permit any interference in its sovereignty.
These remarks follow a deal between New Delhi and Male for the departure of Indian troops from the Maldives by May 10. Muizzu, who is widely seen as a pro-China leader, said that he believes a large majority of Maldivians support his administration with the expectation that they will remove foreign military presence from the country.
“We have officially requested India to remove its troops stationed in the Maldives. Deliberations on this issue are ongoing. As per the most recent discussions, military personnel on one of the three aviation platforms will be recalled before March 10, 2024. The military personnel on the remaining two platforms will also be recalled by May 10, 2024,” Muizzu, was quoted as saying by The Edition newspaper, in the address that was boycotted by the opposition.
The roughly 80 soldiers stationed in the Indian Ocean archipelago will be replaced by civilians. Last week, the External Affairs Ministry said that both sides have agreed on a set of mutually workable solutions to enable the continued operation of Indian aviation platforms that provide humanitarian service. New Delhi’s ties with Male have been under strain since Mohamed Muizzu was elected president of the Maldives last year, pledging to end the country’s “India First” policy.
The first set of Indian troops will leave by March 10 and the rest by May 10, the Maldives earlier said, citing an agreement reached at a high-level meeting in the Indian capital on a range of issues concerning bilateral cooperation. Earlier today, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) boycotted Muizzu’s inaugural address to the Parliament. Another opposition party, The Democrats, also joined MDP, saying the three cabinet members whom the Parliament rejected last week had been invited to the sitting.
The MDP, which holds a majority in the Parliament, said its decision to boycott Muizzu’s address is meant to diminish the Parliament’s honour, the Maldivian outlet SunOnline International reported. Local media reported that the President of the island nation is required by the Constitution to address Parliament at the first session of the first term of the year.