In a direct response to mounting criticisms surrounding the replacement of Indian military personnel with civilians, President Dr Mohamed Muizzu has addressed the concerns, clarifying the government’s position and the steps taken towards fulfilling a key electoral promise.

During a meeting with the residents of Eydhafushi, Baa Atoll, President Muizzu highlighted the successful commencement of the removal of 88 Indian military personnel, previously stationed in the Maldives to operate emergency response aircraft and provide medical services at the Senahiya military hospital.

The president’s remarks come amidst growing scepticism over the nature of the troop withdrawal, with critics alleging that the Indian military personnel are merely being replaced by soldiers in “plain clothes,” rather than seeing a true demilitarisation. 

The criticism points to a nuanced fear of foreign influence persisting under the guise of civilian operations, challenging the government’s transparency and the authenticity of its commitment to national sovereignty.

President Muizzu reiterated the withdrawal schedule, which stipulates the departure of one batch of military personnel by March 10, followed by a final withdrawal before May 10. This timeline corresponds with the Defence Ministry’s announcement of the arrival of a civilian crew from India, tasked with taking over the operations of aircraft previously managed by the Indian military. 

Despite these developments, the Defence Ministry has yet to disclose the exact number of civilian personnel involved in this operation, further fuelling debates over the transparency of the process.

In his speech, President Muizzu condemned the spread of misinformation and urged the public to recognise the tangible progress being made. The president’s assurances aim to quell fears and scepticism by affirming a future devoid of foreign military presence in the Maldives, regardless of attire. 

However, the critical tone of the discourse surrounding this issue reflects broader concerns over national integrity, the influence of foreign powers, and the genuine fulfilment of political promises.