Indian Troops from Second Aviation Platform to Leave Within April: Maldives President Muizzu

Foreign Affairs

Male: Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu has said that Indian military personnel manning the second aviation platform would be withdrawn “within the current month” and reiterated that the entire process would be completed by May 10, a media report said.

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Muizzu’s statement comes three weeks after the first batch of approximately 25 Indian military personnel stationed in the Maldives manning a helicopter gifted by India departed from the island nation after handing over the operations of the chopper to an Indian civilian crew as agreed ahead of the March 10 deadline.

Eighty-eight Indian military personnel were operating two helicopters and a Dornier aircraft which were providing humanitarian and medical evacuation services in this archipelagic nation.

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Following a high-level meeting in New Delhi on February 2 between the two sides, India agreed to replace its military personnel operating the three aviation platforms in the Maldives by May 10. The first batch left the island nation well before March 10.

State-owned Public Service Media reported that Muizzu made the fresh statement during a public meeting. He also reiterated his commitment to preserving Maldives’ independence, emphasising that his government is dedicated to fulfilling this promise. The President elaborated that, in line with agreements reached between parties, the withdrawal process of Indian military personnel is already underway.

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He said that the troops stationed on the second platform will be withdrawn within the current month, while those on the third platform will be withdrawn by May 10, psmnews.mv reported.

Muizzu, seen as a pro-China leader, has repeatedly affirmed that no Indian military personnel, not even those in civilian clothing, would be present inside his country after May 10. Last year, Muizzu rode to power on an anti-India stance and within hours of taking oath, demanded India to remove its personnel from the strategically located island nation in the Indian Ocean.

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Since assuming office as the President in November, Muizzu has travelled to Beijing in January and met China’s top leadership to cement the Male-Beijing relationship. Muizzu’s government has also signed a defence agreement with the Chinese military under which the People’s Liberation Army will assist the Maldivian security and defence forces.

Last week, the Maldives Industrial Development Free Zone under the State Trading Organisation and China Harbour Engineering Company Limited signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish an Agriculture Economic Zone in the Maldives by reclaiming land from Uthuru Thila Falhu for sustainable agriculture purposes.

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