Maldives President Confirms Indian Military Withdrawal, Seeks Parliamentary Support for Independence

The Maldives is removing Indian military personnel, prioritizing its independence and citizens' interests, amid concerns over growing Chinese influence in the region. This move reflects the complex geopolitical dynamics in the Indian Ocean.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Maldives President Confirms Indian Military Withdrawal, Seeks Parliamentary Support for Independence

Maldives President Confirms Indian Military Withdrawal, Seeks Parliamentary Support for Independence

President Dr Mohamed Muizzu of the Maldives has confirmed that Indian military personnel will leave the country by May 10, as previously agreed upon. Muizzu is seeking parliamentary cooperation to amend agreements and laws to ensure the Maldives' independence, prioritizing a 'Maldivian's Maldives' policy that puts the interests of Maldivian citizens first.

The move comes amid concerns over growing Chinese influence in the region, with reports suggesting that China is working to create difficulties for India in neighboring countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. India has taken steps to counter this, such as delivering BrahMos anti-ship supersonic cruise missiles to the Philippines and donating a missile corvette to Vietnam, both of which have territorial disputes with China.

The Maldives' decision to remove Indian military personnel and amend agreements is seen as part of this broader geopolitical context, with the Maldivian government seeking to assert its independence and prioritize the interests of its citizens. The number of tourists from India to the Maldives declined by almost 40% during the January-March 2024 period compared to the same period in 2023, while the total number of tourists from China shot up by over 200%. This decline in Indian tourists was seen after Prime Minister Narendra Modi attempted to promote Lakshadweep as a tourist destination, triggering a row in the Maldives.

Why this matters: The Maldives' decision to remove Indian military personnel and prioritize its own interests reflects the complex geopolitical dynamics in the Indian Ocean region, with both India and China vying for influence. The move could have significant implications for regional stability and the balance of power between the two Asian giants.

The Maldivian parliamentary elections on April 21 are marked by a lack of strong party leadership and unifying issues, leading to voter indifference. Muizzu's party, the People's National Congress (PNC), has split from the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), and Muizzu is forming his own clique within the PNC, putting up 'government candidates' against the official PNC candidates. The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has also undergone a split, with one group led by former President Ibrahim Solih and the other by former Speaker Mohamad Nasheed.

Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has stated that he will not participate in any attempts to remove President Muizzu from office, affirming that although a member of the People's National Front (PNF) voiced support for the MDP's efforts to remove Muizzu, it does not represent the PNF as a whole. Yameen expressed his determination to continue protesting against the loss of a portion of the Maldives's ocean and the substantial foreign influence in its internal affairs.

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Key Takeaways

  • Maldives to remove Indian military personnel by May 10, seek parliamentary cooperation.
  • Maldives prioritizing 'Maldivian's Maldives' policy, amid concerns over growing Chinese influence.
  • Decline in Indian tourists to Maldives, while Chinese tourists increased by over 200%.
  • Maldivian parliamentary elections marked by lack of strong party leadership and unifying issues.
  • Former President Yameen to continue protesting against foreign influence in Maldives' affairs.