NEW DELHI: The Maldives president-elect, Mohamed Muizzu, is clinging to his poll promise of evicting Indian military personnel from the archipelago, but says he will achieve this through diplomatic means. Muizzu, who will formally take over as president next month, has said that he hopes to see the back of the Indian troops, if possible, in the first week itself of his presidency.
Widely seen as a pro-China leader, Muizzu told Al Jazeera in an interview that he will request India to remove its troops on “day one” after taking over as president and that this was one of his top priorities. Muizzu had defeated the incumbent Ibrahim Solih, who was seen as more favourably inclined towards India, in a presidential run off last month.
“I have actually met with the Indian high commissioner few days ago during the transition period and during that meeting itself, I had mentioned that we need this to be our top most priority. They have positively noted that and have said that they will work together with us to find a way forward on this,” said Muizzu, when asked about his promise to remove Indian troops. He, however, admitted he wasn’t aware of the number of Indian military personnel in the Maldives.
“We have been a very peaceful country for centuries. We never had any foreign troops on our soil. We do not have a big military set up and with any foreign troops on our soil, we don’t feel secure,” he added.
Asked if his foreign policy will see a tilt towards China, Muizzu said he will follow a pro-Maldives policy. “We will not side with any country to please them. We want our interests to be secured first. Any country, which respects that, will be our good friend,” said Muizzu.

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