New Administration’s Foreign Policy Shift Formally Calls for Withdrawal of Indian Military from Maldives’ Islands

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PUBLISHED 19 November 2023

With the operations of the new administration in full swing, the Maldives has formally requested the withdrawal of Indian military personnel from their stations in the country. This measure has been listed as part of the policies to be enacted in the first 100 days of President Muizzu’s administration.

This move is one that establishes a shift in the foreign policy objectives of the Maldives, asserting a presence on a regional and global scale for the country without the strong influence of foreign powers. Additionally, President Muizzu has promised his intention to revise and eliminate any clauses in the foreign policy objectives set out by the previous Solih administration – Clauses that may affect the self-determination and sovereignty of the Maldives.

During the Presidential elections, newly elected President Dr. Muizzu and his campaign team held firm values advocating for the removal of the long-term presence of Indian military personnel in efforts to recalibrate the country’s foreign policy. They aimed to achieve positive relationships with foreign partners while prioritizing national interests in regional and global geopolitics.

The formal request was delivered by the President Dr. Muizzu during discussions with the Indian Minister of Earth Sciences, Kiren Rijiju, in a meeting at the President’s office on Saturday. Maldivian and Indian officials have maintained a close relationship. With several Indian officials – such as India’s Minister of External Affairs; Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, expressing congratulations to the new President and enthusiasm for strengthening the bond between India and the Maldives. The Maldives’ newly appointed Foreign Minister Ibrahim Zameer shares this enthusiasm, while also focusing on the recalibration of the Maldives’ foreign policy.

This request for action to withdraw Indian military personnel is a significant mark in the history of the Maldives’ foreign policy. As it takes on a different approach to previous administrations in balancing national interests with global partnerships- both bilateral and multilateral.