South Asia and Beyond

Maldives Prez: No Indian Troops, Not Even In Civilian Clothes

 Maldives Prez: No Indian Troops, Not Even In Civilian Clothes

Upping his ante against India, Maldives president Dr Mohamed Muizzu has said that there will be no Indian military personnel in the country after May 10, either in uniform or civilian clothing, a Maldivian news portal reported

“There will be no Indian troops in the country come May 10, not in uniform and not in civilian clothing. The Indian military will not be residing in this country in any form of clothing. I state this with confidence,” he said.

His statement comes a week after an Indian civilian team reached the country to take charge of three aviation platforms.

He claimed that his government was successful in pushing Indian troops and that has led people to spread false rumours

“That these people [Indian military] are not departing, that they are returning after changing their uniforms into civilian clothing. We must not indulge such thoughts that instill doubts in our hearts and spread lies,” Muizzu, who is regarded as a pro-China leader, stated.

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At President Muizzu’s insistence, New Delhi has begun to replace military pilots and crews with civilians for the two Indian-gifted helicopters and an aircraft used for medical, humanitarian and surveillance missions.

Maldives and China have strengthened their bilateral relations by signing two military agreements. The details of the agreement are not known yet except for the fact that Beijing will provide Maldives military assistance at no cost. President Muizzu also met  Major General Zhang Baoqun, the Deputy Director of the Office for International Military Cooperation, who signed the military pacts on China’s behalf.

In a recent visit to China, Muizzu claimed that Beijing fully supported the Indian Ocean island’s sovereignty and said that no country will influence the island-nation’s foreign policy, in an indirect jibe at India.

Recently, Male allowed a Chinese research vessel to dock at Male port despite concerns that Beijing may use the ship to collect data from the Indian Ocean Region for military purposes.

The country will hold parliamentary elections on April 21. Muizzu will be hoping his party (PNC-People’s National Congress) improves its position so he is able to pursue his legislative agenda. Currently, the 93-member parliament is dominated by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) of former president Ibrahim Solih. The PNC recently lost the election for mayor of Male, the capital.