BEIJING: One day after his swearing-in as the eighth president of the Maldives, Mohamed Muizzu, who ran his election campaign on altering his country’s “India first” policy, has asked New Delhi to withdraw its troops from the country.
Some Chinese observers see this request as a brave step forward for more equal and independent diplomacy as well as inclusive and mutually beneficial cooperation with more nations, including China.
Chinese analysts noted that the new head of the Maldives is trying to safeguard national security and sovereignty despite the long-term and strong coercion from India.
The president’s office said in a statement that the Maldivian people had given him [Muizzu] a strong mandate to make the request to New Delhi and expressed the hope that India will honour the democratic will of the citizens of Maldives.
Muizzu made the request when the Indian Minister of Earth Sciences paid a congratulatory call to him. Muizzu won the presidential vote in September after promising to remove a small Indian military presence of some seventy-five personnel.
Maldives’ Interest to be Prioritized
At his inauguration on Friday, the Maldivian president expressed his commitment to prioritizing the interests of the people of the Maldives, ensuring that no external country’s interests will supersede those of the Maldives and its nationals.
Muizzu’s Indian troop withdrawal request reflects that the new administration is trying to strike a diplomatic balance between its ties with India and other countries and regions, said Long Xingchun, a professor at the School of International Relations at Sichuan International Studies University.
He said that the Maldives cannot engage in inclusive and comprehensive diplomacy with other countries if New Delhi continues its military presence. In that case, Maldives will be constrained in its interactions with Beijing and other countries.