77 Indian military personnel in Maldives; new government reviewing more than 100 agreements with India: Official

The new administration under President Muizzu also promises to disclose details on the agreements where possible

November 20, 2023 12:17 am | Updated 12:17 am IST - Male

Union Minister for Earth Sciences Kiren Rijiju calls on Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu.

Union Minister for Earth Sciences Kiren Rijiju calls on Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu. | Photo Credit: ANI

There were 77 Indian military personnel in the Maldives and the new government here was reviewing more than 100 agreements signed with New Delhi, a senior Maldivian official said on Sunday, a day after President Mohamed Muizzu formally requested India to withdraw its troops from the island nation.

Addressing a press conference here, the Undersecretary for Public Policy of the Presidential Office, Mohamed Firuzul Abdul Khaleel said the new administration has established that there are 77 Indian military personnel in the Maldives.

There were 24 Indian military personnel to manage the first helicopter, 25 Indians to manage the Dornier aircraft, 26 personnel to manage the second helicopter, and two more for maintenance and engineering, Mr. Firuzul was quoted as saying by the Maldivian media.

He said that President Muizzu, who won the presidential election in September, has initiated efforts to expel all 77 from the Maldives.

The Maldives is one of India’s key maritime neighbours in the strategic Indian Ocean Region and the overall bilateral ties, including in areas of defence and security, have been on an upward trajectory under the government of Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

The Maldives is also one of the biggest beneficiaries of India’s Neighbourhood First policy.

During a meeting with Union Minister of Earth Sciences Kiren Rijiju here on Saturday, Mr. Muizzu officially requested the Indian government to have their military personnel removed from the Maldives.

Mr. Rijiju called on Mr. Muizzu, widely seen as a pro-China leader, at his office, a day after attending the Maldivian leader’s inauguration ceremony.

M.r Muizzu had built his presidential campaign against Mr. Solih on the promise of expelling Indian military personnel from the Maldives. He also said he would review the agreements between Maldives and India, and disclose its contents where possible.

Mr. Firuzul said the former administration of ex-President Solih signed over 100 agreements with India, and that the new administration is reviewing them, Sun.mv.com reported.

The agreements in question include the Uthuru Thila Falhu (UTF) agreement and other defence agreements, the report said.

The previous administration had refused to disclose the exact number of Indian military personnel stationed in Maldives, citing that it posed a threat to national security, it said.

Soon after the oath-taking on Friday, President Muizzu asserted that he was firmly committed to ensuring that his country remains “free” of any “foreign military presence” to preserve its independence and sovereignty.

During his meeting with Mr. Rijiju on Saturday, President Muizzu formally requested the Government of India to withdraw its military personnel from the Maldives.

“The President noted that at the Presidential Election held in September, the Maldivian people had given him a strong mandate to make the request to India and expressed the hope that India will honour the democratic will of the people of the Maldives,” the statement from the President’s Office said.

While discussing the matter with Mr. Rijiju, Mr. Muizzu also acknowledged the significant role of the two helicopters in providing numerous emergency medical evacuations in the Maldives.

In May, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visited the Maldives during which he handed over a fast patrol vessel and a landing craft to the island nation.

Maldives is India’s key maritime neighbour in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and occupies a special place in the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and the ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.