The Maldives has formally requested India to withdraw its military personnel stationed in the Maldives. This request was conveyed by President Dr Mohamed Muizzu to the Indian Minister of Earth Sciences, Kiren Rijiju, during a meeting held at the President’s Office on Saturday.

This development follows recent interactions between Maldivian and Indian officials, including a congratulatory message from India’s Minister of External Affairs (MEA), Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, to the Maldives’ new Foreign Minister, Moosa Zameer. Jaishankar’s message on social media expressed enthusiasm for strengthening the special relationship between India and the Maldives. In response, Zameer emphasised the new administration’s commitment to a mutually beneficial relationship with India while hinting at a recalibration of the Maldives’ foreign policy.

President Muizzu’s election campaign strongly advocated for the removal of long-term foreign military presence from the Maldives, a stance that aligns with his broader strategy to recalibrate the nation’s foreign policy. The aim is to prioritise national interests in regional and global geopolitics while maintaining positive relationships with bilateral and multilateral partners.

The first 100 days roadmap of President Muizzu’s administration includes the elimination of foreign troops’ long-term presence in the country. This move signals a shift towards establishing a regional and global presence for the Maldives that is free from the influence of foreign powers. Furthermore, President Muizzu has indicated his intention to revise or eliminate any clauses in agreements made by the previous Solih administration with other foreign powers that might affect the sovereignty and independence of the Maldives.

This recent request for the withdrawal of Indian military personnel marks a notable moment in the Maldives’ foreign policy, as it seeks a more centred approach in its international relations, balancing national interests with the dynamics of regional and global partnerships.

(Additional reporting by Ibrahim H. Shihab)