India Commences Military Personnel Withdrawal from Maldives, Civilian Experts Take Over

Military Personnel Withdrawal from Maldives

New Delhi: In a significant move reflecting the evolving dynamics of India-Maldives relations, the Indian government confirmed on Friday that the first batch of its military personnel, previously stationed in the Maldives to operate Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH), has successfully returned to India. This development comes as part of a broader initiative to replace military operators with civilian technical experts, aligning with the directives issued by Maldivian President Mohammed Muizzu.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal announced at his weekly press conference, “The withdrawal of the first team of personnel operating the ALH has been completed. The transition involving the replacement of the initial batch with civilian counterparts has been fully realized.”

This strategic shift follows the second assembly of a high-level core group dedicated to the systematic withdrawal of Indian military personnel. The Maldivian Foreign Ministry has outlined a two-phase replacement strategy, aiming for the complete withdrawal of Indian military staff by May 10. The core group’s inception was a bilateral decision made in the wake of discussions between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Muizzu during the COP-28 summit in Dubai last December.

Military Personnel Withdrawal from Maldives

President Muizzu, often perceived as a pro-China figure, has reiterated his commitment to fulfilling his electoral pledge of removing Indian military presence from Maldivian soil. The 45-year-old leader ascended to the presidency following a victory over the incumbent President Ibrahim Mohammad Solih, known for his India-friendly stance, in the September elections of the previous year.

The recalibration of military and technical roles underscores a pivotal moment for both nations, as they navigate the delicate balance of regional influence and cooperation.