MALE: President Mohamed Muizzu of the Maldives vowed on Friday to expel Indian troops deployed in the strategically located archipelago, in his first speech to the nation after being sworn into power.
Muizzu, 45, did not name India — but promised he would deliver on his election promises, key among them a pledge to evict some 50 to 75 Indian security personnel.
“The country will not have any foreign military personnel in the Maldives,” Muizzu said after being sworn in before chief justice Ahmed Adnan at a televised, open-air ceremony.
“When it comes to our security, I will draw a red line. The Maldives will respect the red lines of other countries too.” Earlier this week, Muizzu said that his intention was not to upend the regional balance by replacing the Indian military with Chinese troops.
Muizzu, a former mayor of the capital Male and a construction minister for seven years, had previously promised to cultivate “strong ties” with China, a key financial backer of his nation.
The country’s eighth president since independence from Britain in 1965, Muizzu was elected in September as a proxy for a pro-China predecessor who is jailed on corruption charges.
High-level representatives from both China and India were in attendance, as well as from Bangladesh, the Seychelles and Sri Lanka.
Primarily known as one of the most expensive holiday destinations in South Asia, with pristine white beaches and secluded resorts, the Maldives has also become a geopolitical hotspot.
Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2023