Historic Shift: Indian Troops to Depart Maldives by May 2024 After Landmark Agreement

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Delhi: In a significant announcement on Monday, Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu revealed that an agreement has been reached between India and the Maldives for the repatriation of Indian military personnel stationed in the Maldives. President Muizzu stated during his inaugural address at the commencement of the final session of the 19th Parliament that the initial contingent of Indian troops will be relocated from one of the three aviation platforms in the Maldives by March 10, 2024. The remaining military personnel will follow suit and leave by May 10, 2024.

According to local media reports, President Muizzu emphasized his commitment to safeguarding the freedom and sovereignty of the Maldivian people, noting that discussions with India regarding the withdrawal of troops are currently underway. The President highlighted that the support of the majority of the Maldivian population for his government reflects a promise to withdraw foreign troops, reclaim lost parts of Maldivian seas, and annul any agreements that may compromise the country’s sovereignty.

During his address at the Parliament, President Muizzu announced his plans to bolster the capability of the Maldives military to maintain the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) 24 hours a day.

The withdrawal of Indian troops from the Maldives was a central focus of President Muizzu’s party’s campaign. Presently, approximately 70 Indian troops, along with a Dornier 228 maritime patrol aircraft and two HAL Dhruv helicopters, are stationed in the Maldives. The decision to repatriate the troops follows President Muizzu’s formal request to the Indian government on the second day of his presidency. The withdrawal has been an ongoing diplomatic effort, with discussions taking place in New Delhi during the second meeting of the high-level core group between the Maldives and India.

The opposition, consisting of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Democrats, chose to boycott the inaugural session of the People’s Majlis, citing concerns about the “undemocratic ways of the government.” A total of 56 Members of Parliament (MPs) boycotted the opening sitting, including 13 MPs from the Democrats and 44 MPs from the MDP.

The Maldives Foreign Ministry confirmed that both sides agreed during the recent high-level core group meeting that the Government of India will replace military personnel in one of the three aviation platforms by March 10, 2024, and complete the replacement of military personnel in the other two platforms by May 10, 2024. The withdrawal signifies a significant diplomatic development between India and the Maldives, aligning with the Maldivian President’s commitment to national sovereignty.

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