Mohamed Muizzu, the president of the Maldives, has formally asked the Indian government to remove its armed forces from the island nation. The president’s administration released an official statement announcing the request.
The announcement, made by the Maldivian President’s office, said his country “hopes that India will honour the democratic will of the people”. The request was made when Muizzu met Earth Sciences Minister Kiren Rijiju in Malé earlier in the day.
“The President noted that at the Presidential Election held in September, the Maldivian people had given him a strong mandate to make the request to India and expressed the hope that India will honour the democratic will of the people of the Maldives,” the statement read.
“When Minister Rijiju called on President Muizzu, the President brought up the issue of Indian military personnel present in the Maldives for operating aircraft for medical evacuation and counter drug trafficking purposes,” it added.
One day after Muizzu took the oath of office as president of the Maldives, he has requested that Indian forces be removed from the island nation. Following his resignation as Malé’s mayor, 45-year-old engineer-turned-politician Muizzu became the nation’s seventh president of the archipelago.
At Muizzu’s Friday inauguration event, Rijiju and other South Asian ministers represented the nation. The president of the Maldives, Muizzu, met with Rijiju shortly after his inauguration, and according to his office, they discussed “various projects in Maldives with the support of India” during their discussion.
“The President (at the meeting with Rijiju) emphasised the importance of accelerating the Greater Malé Connectivity Project (GMCP), and highlighted the importance of addressing and overcoming the issues delaying the project,” it stated.
It further said, “The Minister expressed his aspiration to foster a constructive relationship with the Maldives, acknowledging the presence of a vibrant Indian community residing in the Maldives.”
Muizzu had indicated during the election campaign that the withdrawal of Indian troops from Maldives is among the issues that need to be resolved.
Meanwhile, Kiren Rijiju took to X, formerly Twitter, and cemented the country’s ties with Maldives.
“Conveyed greetings from PM Narendra Modi and reiterated India’s commitment to further strengthen substantive bilateral cooperation and robust people-to-people ties,” Rijiju tweeted.
Privileged to call on President H.E. Dr. Mohamed Muizzu.
Conveyed greetings from Hon’ble PM @NarendraModi and reiterated India’s commitment to further strengthen the substantive bilateral cooperation and robust people-to-people ties. pic.twitter.com/nFa95QD9ES
— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) November 18, 2023
In September, Muizzu emerged victorious in a runoff against the perceived India-friendly Ibrahim Solih. The recently elected President reportedly declared that the Maldives was “too small to be entangled in geopolitical rivalry” and that it would not be a part of his foreign policy.