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Maldives President Says Indian Troops To Leave Island Nation By May

Maldives president is drawing criticism for his anti-India stance

New Delhi:

Sticking to his anti-India stance, Maldivian President Mohamed Muiz today told parliament that the island nation will not allow “any country to interfere with or violate our sovereignty.” He said New Delhi and Male had agreed for Indian troops to leave the Maldives by May 10, according to local media reports.

President Muiz said that Indian troops stationed at one of the three air platforms in the Maldives will be withdrawn by March 10, while Indian troops stationed at the other two air platforms will be withdrawn by May 10. He said he would withdraw by then. We will not allow any country to interfere with or violate our sovereignty,” the president said.

The two main opposition parties, the Democratic Party and the Democratic Party, boycotted President Muiz’s speech.

Both parties have 56 members (43+13) in the 87-seat parliament. Seven MPs resigned to take up administrator positions in Muiz’s government. Only 24 of the current 80 members attended the president’s speech. According to local reports, this is the largest boycott in the history of the Maldives parliament. The Democratic Party and Democratic Party are also working on proposals to impeach President Muiz.

India has 87 troops stationed in the island nation to provide humanitarian assistance and medical evacuation. President Muiz’s campaign has focused on reducing India’s influence in Maldives affairs, and the presence of Indian troops has emerged as a key issue since he took office.

Reuters earlier reported that the two countries had reached an agreement to withdraw troops during talks in New Delhi.

The Ministry of External Affairs said the two countries “agreed on a set of mutually viable solutions that will enable the continued operation of Indian aviation platforms” providing humanitarian services to the Maldives. According to Reuters, the soldiers will be replaced by civilians.

President Muiz’s anti-India stance has drawn criticism domestically, especially in light of the new administration’s approach to China. Immediately after his inauguration, President Muiz visited China and met with President Xi Jinping. This was a major change from the traditional close relationship between the Maldives and India, and also an important development considering the geopolitical equation of the Indian Ocean region.

The opposition Democratic Party of Japan and the Democratic Party of Japan recently issued a joint statement calling the change in the island nation’s foreign policy “extremely harmful.”

“Alienating any development partner, especially this country’s most long-standing ally, is extremely detrimental to the country’s long-term development,” the statement said. He also emphasized that “the stability and security of the Indian Ocean is critical to the stability and security of the Maldives.”

Another political party called on President Muiz to apologize to India. Dumhuri Party leader Gasim Ibrahim said the Maldives president needs to formally apologize to India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and seek a “diplomatic settlement” to mend relations.

Mr. Ibrahim’s remarks were in reference to President Muiz’s remarks immediately after returning from China. “We may be small, but that doesn’t give them permission to bully us,” he said, without naming any country. The statement was seen as defaming India.

Asked about the strained relations, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said neighbors need each other. “History and geography are very powerful forces. You can’t escape from them,” he said.

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