Male: During his inaugural address as the President of the Maldives, Mohamed Muizzu pledged to ensure the absence of foreign military presence on the island. This commitment prompted a formal request to Union Minister Kiren Rijiju for the withdrawal of Indian military personnel, leading to discussions on potential solutions.
The Maldives, a sought-after tourist destination, has gained geopolitical importance in the Indian Ocean region amid border tensions between India and China. Both nations have heavily invested in the island's development, with President Muizzu stressing the Maldives' commitment to neutrality in geopolitical rivalries.
President Muizzu succeeds Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, known for strengthening ties with India. As a close associate of former President Abdulla Yameen, Muizzu aims to continue building robust relations between the Maldives and China, especially considering Yameen's nomination following legal restrictions.
Security Concerns and Intent:
Post-election, President Muizzu advocates for the withdrawal of approximately 70 Indian troops, citing security reasons. He clarifies that this move does not signify an intention to replace Indian military personnel with Chinese troops. The emphasis lies on respecting other nations' red lines while safeguarding the Maldives' security interests.
Bilateral Relations Discussion:
In a meeting with Union Minister Rijiju, President Muizzu engages in discussions regarding the progress of Indian-backed projects in the Maldives. The meeting concludes with both leaders expressing a renewed commitment to fortify bilateral relations between the two countries.
Quotes from President Muizzu:
"When it comes to our security, I will draw a red line. The Maldives will respect the red lines of other countries too."
"We look forward to returning to government in 2023, with President Yameen at the helm, to script a further chapter of strong ties between our two countries, both domestically and internationally."
President Muizzu's presidency marks a crucial juncture for the Maldives as it navigates complex relationships with regional players, prioritizing security concerns and advancing key development projects. The discussions with Union Minister Rijiju underscore the nation's commitment to fostering strong bilateral ties.