President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has refuted claims of foreign military presence in the Maldives, criticising his opponents for spreading baseless misinformation, which he believes is unbecoming of someone aspiring to be a head of state.

Speaking at a campaign rally in Inguraidhoo of Raa Atoll, President Solih addressed allegations made by some of his opponents, stating that they claim to encounter foreign military personnel when visiting the islands. He questioned whether others had witnessed such a situation and reiterated his commitment to preserving the Maldives’ sovereignty and independence during his leadership.

President Solih emphasised that foreign partnerships are crucial for the country’s development, and nurturing strong relationships with other nations remains an integral aspect of governance.

He accused his predecessor of pursuing a foreign policy that isolated the Maldives internationally and used nationalist sentiments to divert attention from the significance of a well-structured foreign policy for the nation’s progress.

President Solih, representing the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), has traditionally advocated for a “neighbourhood first” foreign policy, fostering robust ties with India. In contrast, his predecessor from the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, pursued an Eastward policy that established close relations with China.

Given the geopolitical rivalry between India and China in the Indian Ocean region, the politics of the Maldives has been impacted, as both countries seek to increase their influence in the area.

PPM has alleged that President Solih’s government made undisclosed deals with India to establish military bases in the Maldives, a claim the government has firmly denied.

During PPM’s tenure, MDP also accused the government of collaborating with China to allow the presence of Chinese military forces in the country.