In his New Year’s message, President Mohamed Muizzu subtly critiqued the policies of the previous administration, suggesting that the electorate chose to replace the former government due to dissatisfaction with its foreign and religious policies, as well as infrastructure development standards.

President Muizzu posited that the people had made significant decisions in the past year, shaping new national aspirations for the new year. One such decision, according to Muizzu, was to remove foreign troops in the Maldives. This issue was a central tenet of Muizzu’s campaign during the September 2023 presidential elections, prominently featuring the ‘India out’ slogan.

Political commentators suggest that the ‘India out’ campaign significantly impacted the re-election bid of former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. Some analysts attribute Solih’s defeat solely to misinformation spread by the then-opposition about the Indian military presence in the Maldives.

As the presidential candidate of the Progressive Congress Coalition, comprising the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the People’s National Congress (PNC), Muizzu pledged to remove Indian troops from the Maldives if elected.

A month and a half into Muizzu’s administration, there remains uncertainty 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 Muizzu government reported 77 Indian troops in the Maldives, later revising this figure to 89, inclusive of military doctors at Senahiya Hospital. Despite repeated inquiries, the government has yet to provide a definitive count, with different agencies presenting varying numbers.

In his New Year’s address, President Muizzu also suggested that the Maldivian people had voted for national development and to elevate the country to the level of other nations, indirectly hinting at the perceived failures of the Solih government to bring about development.

Nevertheless, the previous administration concentrated on implementing a comprehensive development strategy during its tenure, ensuring equitable development of every island and all its inhabitants experienced the advantages of progress. This strategy included initiating and executing thousands of infrastructure development projects on islands that previous administrations had overlooked. Some of the notable policies of the previous administration included the development or commencement of sewerage network projects on all inhabited islands.

In his address, President Muizzu also suggested that the people had chosen a president who would instill religious and moral values in people and revive a sense of nationalism in society. He also insinuated that the Solih administration had failed to provide modern housing.

“In recognising the hopes and aspirations of the Maldivian people, they have elected a new government, entrusting it with the responsibility of realising their vision for the New Year,” stated Muizzu.

President Muizzu also highlighted the first 100 day pledges of his administration and stated that the final weeks of last year had been seen and that the first few weeks of this year will be an exceptional period in terms of development. He added that during this period, his administration had and will fulfil numerous of his first 100-day pledges.

Additional reporting by Andrew Richards