The newly elected pro-Chinese Maldivian president Mohamed Muizzu has said that he will stick to his campaign promise to remove Indian soldiers stationed in the country.
“The people have told us that they don't want foreign military here,” AP quoted him as having said.
He said that foreign soldiers would not be permitted to stay in the Maldives against the people's wishes and vowed to initiate these efforts immediately upon taking office,he said reportedly.
Muizzu has won presidential elections in the Maldives.
He defeated an incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
Muizzu is considered pro-China, while Solih had strengthened relations with India.
Solih accepted defeat in the run-off poll, and congratulated his rival Mohamed Muizzu who won 54% of the votes.
Muizzu, mayor of the capital Male, campaigned with the slogan "India out”.
Solih will serve as caretaker president until his successor is inaugurated on 17 November.
Solih,the 61 year old from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had strengthened relations with India ever since he came to power in Male in 2018.
He built strong cultural and financial ties with India and championed it "India-first" policy.
The Maldives have long been under India's sphere of influence. Maldives assumes significance for India considering its strategic location which helps it to monitor large part of the Indian Ocean.
Who is Mohamed Muizzu?
Muizzu, 45, from the Progressive Alliance coalition favours better relations with China.
China, with its rapidly expanding naval forces, wants access to such a strategically important location - something India doesn’t want.
China is also watchful about its energy supplies from the Gulf which pass through the area.
India has provided the Maldives two helicopters and a small aircraft in the last decade.
Muizzu, born in 1978, holds a PhD in civil engineering from the University of Leeds in the UK. He entered politics in 2012 as minister of housing.
In 2021, he won mayoral elections in Male, a first for the PPM.