The President’s Office revealed on Sunday that 77 Indian military personnel are currently stationed in the Maldives, overseeing various responsibilities such as managing helicopters and aircraft. Mohamed Firuzul Abdul Khaleel, the Undersecretary for Public Policy at the President’s Office, announced in a press conference that President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu has initiated efforts to expel all 77 Indian military personnel from the Maldives.
According to Firuzul, the personnel are distributed as follows: 24 for managing the first helicopter, 25 for the Dornier aircraft, 26 for the second helicopter, and two for maintenance and engineering purposes. President Muizzu had pledged during his presidential campaign to remove Indian military personnel from the Maldives.
In a meeting with Indian Union Minister of Earth Sciences Kiren Rijiju on Friday, President Muizzu officially requested the Indian government to withdraw their military personnel from the Maldives. The president has also expressed his commitment to reviewing the over 100 agreements signed between India and the previous Maldivian administration.
Among the agreements under scrutiny are the contentious Uthuru Thila Falhu (UTF) agreement and various defense agreements. The former administration, led by President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, had previously asked India to withdraw its military personnel, who were stationed in the Maldives to maintain the helicopters donated by India. However, these personnel remained in the Maldives.
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) administration, during its tenure, refused to disclose the exact number of Indian military personnel in the country, citing national security concerns. The opposition, represented by the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and People’s National Congress (PNC), had repeatedly expressed apprehension about the close ties between the MDP administration and India, suggesting an imbalance in favor of India. President Muizzu’s actions align with his campaign promise and signify a shift in the approach to the bilateral relationship between the Maldives and India.