First batch of Indian civilian technicians replacing country’s troops reach Maldives

Team India Sentinels Tuesday 27th of February 2024 12:38 PM

The new Maldivian president, Mohamed Muizzu, had asked Indian troops in his country to leave as a part of his election promise. (File photo)

New Delhi: The first batch of Indian civilian technicians arrived in the Maldives, on Monday, to replace the Indian military personnel who have been operating three aircraft gifted by India for humanitarian and medical purposes.

As India Sentinels had reported earlier, the move comes after the new Maldivian president, Mohamed Muizzu, who took office in November 2023, demanded that the Indian troops be withdrawn by March 15, 2024, as part of his campaign promise to reduce foreign influence in the island nation.

According to the Maldivian defence ministry, the civilian crew will take charge of the helicopter stationed in Addu City, while the helicopter in Kadhdhoo will be returned to India for maintenance and replaced by another one on Wednesday. The Dornier aircraft in Hanimaadhoo will also be handed over to the civilians by May 10, 2024.

The Indian military personnel, numbering around 80, have been providing medical evacuation and humanitarian assistance to the Maldivian people for the last few years, using the two helicopters and the aircraft donated by India. The Maldivian government has expressed its gratitude to India for its generous assistance and cooperation.

The decision to replace the Indian troops with civilians was reached after two high-level meetings between the two countries in January and February 2024, where they agreed on a set of mutually workable solutions to enable the continued operation of the Indian aviation platforms.

The move is seen as a compromise to balance the strategic interests of India and the domestic politics of the Maldives, which have been strained since Muizzu came to power and sought closer ties with China. Muizzu won the 2023 presidential election on an anti-India plank. It came as a surprise to many observers because New Delhi considers Male as a key partner in the Indian Ocean Region.


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