President Muizzu fulfills pledge as Maldivian forces unprepared for Indian aircraft

The revelation came from Maldivian Defense Minister Ghassan Maumoon during a press briefing in Male, just days after the Indian troops left.

Indian military personnel in the Maldives operated two helicopters and a Dornier light transport plane before leaving on Friday (10th May).

After their departure, it was revealed that Maldivian forces lack the capability to operate these aircraft.

The revelation came from Maldivian Defense Minister Ghassan Maumoon during a press briefing in Male, just days after the Indian troops left.

Defense Minister Ghassan Maumoon mentioned that while some members of the Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF) have begun flight training, none are currently qualified to fly the aircraft that were left by the Indian military.

Defense Minister Ghassan Maumoon explained that the training for Maldivian personnel to operate aircraft includes several stages, which they haven’t completed yet for various reasons. As a result, there are currently no licensed or fully operational pilots in the force to fly the two helicopters and the Dornier aircraft.

This statement from Maumoon contrasts with earlier claims from top officials in President Mohamed Muizzu’s new administration, who stated that the MNDF had qualified pilots.

The departure of Indian personnel from the Maldives last Friday was in line with a February agreement. Removing Indian forces was a key promise in President Muizzu’s 2023 election campaign.

Public Reassurance Given

On Saturday (11th Fri)., Maldives Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer announced that 76 Indian military personnel, who had been stationed in the Maldives, were replaced by civilian staff from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the company that manufactured the gifted helicopters.

Zameer clarified the number of troops that had been repatriated as India completed its troop withdrawal ahead of the May 10 deadline. This move came promptly after President Mohamed Muizzu, who leans pro-China, took office in November and demanded the repatriation.

Following his first official visit to India, Zameer held a press conference where he detailed the previous presence of Indian soldiers in Maldives locations such as Hanimaadhoo, Kadhdhoo, and Gan.

Local media reports quote Moosa Zameer stating that the withdrawal of Indian troops occurred in stages: 26 soldiers left Gan between March 7 and March 9, another 25 left Hanimaadhoo from April 7 to April 9, 12 departed from Kadhdhoo on Tuesday (7th May) and the final group of 13 left Kadhdhoo on Thursday (9th May).

During the same press conference, Defense Minister Mohamed Ghassan Maumoon assured the public that the Maldives government had verified the civilian status of those replacing the Indian military personnel.

He confirmed that the aircraft are now officially managed by the Defence Ministry and the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).