A month and a half into President Mohamed Muizzu’s administration, uncertainty persists over the exact number of Indian soldiers stationed in the Maldives, raising concerns about the veracity of the allegations made by the current ruling coalition when they were in opposition.

Initially, the government reported 77 Indian troops in the Maldives, later revising this figure to 89, inclusive of military doctors at Senahiya. Despite repeated inquiries, the government has not provided a definitive count, with different agencies presenting varying numbers.

Government spokesperson Mohamed Shahyb, addressing the issue, downplayed the significance of the precise count, asserting it poses no threat to national security. “The number we disclose to the media is based on the information we receive. Relevant institutions have reviewed the situation and do not perceive it as a threat,” Shahyb stated.

The Defence Ministry and other relevant agencies, believed to be in possession of the accurate figures, have not shared these details with the President’s Office. Shahyb expressed confidence in these agencies’ knowledge of the actual number, though he refrained from offering explicit confirmation.

This issue of Indian troop presence has been politically charged. While in opposition, the ruling coalition claimed the presence of thousands of Indian soldiers, suggesting it could undermine Maldivian sovereignty and independence. On assuming office, the government called for the withdrawal of Indian troops, forming a co-group with senior Indian officials to facilitate this. The timeline for the withdrawal remains unspecified.

Previously, Indian newspapers, citing government officials, reported that no formal agreement has been reached regarding troop withdrawal. This comes despite President Muizzu’s campaign promise to remove Indian soldiers, a pledge central to his election platform.

During a press conference, spokesperson Shahyb reiterated the current official count of 89, acknowledging potential changes in the figure. The inconsistency in the troop count has become a point of media focus, with journalists questioning the potential security implications of this uncertainty.