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Muizzu claims India agrees to withdraw its troops from Maldives: 'Won't allow any country to interfere...'

Maldivian President's Mohamed Muizzu claim came days after his foreign ministry claimed that India has agreed to "replace" military personnel in three aviation platforms by May 10. However, New Delhi did not reiterate the same stance.

Written By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Male Updated on: February 05, 2024 13:17 IST
Maldivian President's Mohamed Muizzu
Image Source : AP Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu speaks during a plenary session at the COP28

Male: Amid the ongoing tensions between India and Maldives, President Mohamed Muizzu addressed the parliament on Monday, wherein he reiterated his earlier stance on the removal of Indian troops from the archipelago nation. According to local media reports, at least two main opposition parties, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and The Democrats, have boycotted the presidential address. The media report claimed out of 80 MPs, only 24 were present during Muizzu's address-- thus marking the biggest boycott of any President in the history of Maldives. While addressing the Maldivian Parliament, Muizzu, who has taken an anti-India stance ever since he launched the election campaign last year, said he would not allow any country to interfere or undermine its sovereignty-- a rhetoric Muizzu maintained ever since he returned from China last month.

"The island nation will not allow any country to interfere with or undermine our sovereignty," he told Parliament.

 "Maldives will not renew the agreement with India to chart the country's inner and underwater charts. We will not allow any country to interfere with or undermine our sovereignty," he added.

Muizzu's anti-India rhetoric appears in his latest address

Muizzu, who has taken an anti-India stance ever since he launched the election campaign last year, said he would not allow any country to interfere or undermine its sovereignty. According to Muizzu, India agreed to withdraw its troops from the island nation when the officials of both countries held a meeting in New Delhi last week. The same was mentioned in the statement released by Maldivian Foreign Ministry. As per the statement, both countries agreed on a common withdrawal date and added India would begin withdrawing troops from the Maldives on March 10 and complete the process by withdrawing from all three aviation platforms by May 10.

However, contrary to Maldive's claim, New Delhi did not mention a withdrawal, saying instead that both sides agreed on a set of solutions “to enable continued operation of Indian aviation platforms that provide humanitarian and medevac services to the people of Maldives.”  

Currently, around 80 Indian military personnel are in the Maldives primarily to operate two advanced light helicopters and an aircraft that have carried out several humanitarian missions. The Indian platforms have been providing humanitarian and medical evacuation services to the people of the Maldives for the last few years.

Maldives ministers' contentious remarks 

Notably, the tension between India and Maldives rose after Mariyam Shiuna, Deputy Minister of Youth Empowerment, Information and Arts, commented on the photos of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit to Lakshadweep. She dubbed PM Modi as a ‘clown’ and a ‘puppet of Israel’. “What a clown. The puppet of Israel Mr Narendra diver with a life jacket #VisitMaldives,” Shiuna tweeted.  Her critical comments came as India has maintained good relations with Israel even though the country has been engaged in the ongoing war against Hamas. India, however, since the start of the conflict has helped Palestine, sending humanitarian aid and has actively advocated two-state solutions. Ignoring the fact, the minister called Prime Minister Modi a "puppet of Israel". Later, several other ministers followed suit.

In fact, several of the ministers even claimed that Indian beaches could not meet the cleanliness level of the Maldives beaches. “The move is great. However, the idea of competing with us is delusional. How can they provide the service we offer? How can they be so clean? The permanent smell in the rooms will be the biggest downfall," Zahid Rameez, a Council member of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) wrote on X. 

India-Maldives diplomatic tensions

This triggered a major uproar in the diplomatic arena, wherein the Maldivian side had to release a "clarification" statement. The archipelago nation emphasised that the minister's remarks did not represent the view of the incumbent government and subsequently suspended three of the ministers who denounced the visit of PM Modi. "The Government of Maldives is aware of derogatory remarks on social media platforms against foreign leaders and high-ranking individuals. These opinions are personal and do not represent the views of the Government of Maldives...Moreover, the relevant authorities of the Government will not hesitate to take action against those who make such derogatory remarks," according to the statement. 

 A day after the suspension, India called the Maldives envoy in New Delhi and discussed the matter. 

Also Read: Maldives opposition to submit impeachment motion against President Mohamed Muizzu

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