Indian civilians arrive as military personnel prepare to withdraw from Maldives

The initial group of Indian civilians replacing the first group of Indian military personnel departing from the Maldives has arrived.

Indian military personnel have been stationed in different points across the Maldives, operating aircraft and helicopters provided by India. This includes bases in Gan, Addu City, Laamu Kadhdhoo, and Haa Dhaalu Hanimaadhoo. The withdrawal of foreign military personnel, particularly Indian troops, was a central point in Maldives President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu's presidential campaign. Upon assuming power on November 17, Muizzu officially communicated the request to the Indian government.

High-level meetings were subsequently held between core groups of Maldives and India to discuss the withdrawal of the troops. In this regard, an agreement was reached between both countries to withdraw the first batch of Indian troops from the Maldives by March 10, and the last batch on May 10 this year.

The Maldives Defence Ministry issued a statement confirming the arrival of the first group of civilians to replace the departing Indian troops in accordance with the agreement. The transfer of a helicopter from Addu City to India for maintenance is scheduled, necessitating test flights scheduled from the 27th of this month, the statement noted.

"The Indian navy vessel is scheduled to arrive in Addu City on February 28, 2024 to take the helicopter back to India and to deliver its replacement," the statement said.

The statement further said that the government aims to strengthen and maintain defense and security relations with friendly countries to protect and safeguard the sovereignty and independence of the people of the country.