Back From China, Maldives President Tells India To Stop Being A Bully, Withdraw Troops
MALE, (IANS) – Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu has asked India to withdraw its military personnel, estimated at 88 personnel, from the Indian Ocean archipelago by mid-March.
A high-level core group, set by both nations, to negotiate the withdrawal of troops held its first meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Male on January 15 with Indian High Commissioner Munu Mahawar present, officials said, adding that the agenda for the meeting was the request to withdraw troops by mid-March.
“Indian military personnel cannot stay in the Maldives. This is the policy of President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu and that of this administration,” a spokesperson said.
President Muizzu had, during his presidential campaign, asserted that he would accomplish the removal of Indian troops from the Maldives, and had made a formal request to India to withdraw its military personnel soon after assuming office.
Amid the row over three junior ministers’ allegedly derogatory remarks against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his Lakshwadeep visit, the Maldives President, talking to the press on January 13 after his return from a five-day state visit to China, without naming India, made a further jab at it.
“We may be small, but that doesn’t give you the license to bully us.”
He also announced plans to reduce the country’s dependency on India, including securing imports of essential food commodities and medicine and consumables from other countries.
“We aren’t in anyone’s backyard. We are an independent and sovereign state,” he told reporters at the Velana International Airport.
He said that no country has the right to exert influence over the domestic affairs of a country, regardless of its size, and vowed that he would not allow any external influence on the domestic affairs of the Maldives.