Male, October 13 (NIA): The Maldives has decided to leave the Commonwealth after the intergovernmental organization’s democracy watchdog placed the country on its formal agenda in late September.
The Maldives was also facing suspension from the Councils of the Commonwealth if steps were not taken by March 2017 to resolve a protracted political crisis triggered by the jailing of opposition leaders last year.
The foreign ministry issued a statement describing the decision to quit the Commonwealth as “difficult, but inevitable.”
“The Commonwealth has sought to take punitive actions against the Maldives since 2012 after the then President of Maldives resigned, and transfer of power took place as per the procedures set out in the Constitution,” reads the statement.
“The Commonwealth’s decision to penalize the Maldives was unjustified especially given that the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI), established with the help of the Commonwealth, found that the transfer of power in the Maldives was consistent with the constitutional provisions.
“Since then, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) and the Commonwealth Secretariat have treated the Maldives unjustly and unfairly. The Commonwealth has sought to become an active participant in the domestic political discourse in the Maldives, which is contrary to the principles of the Charters of the UN and the Commonwealth.”
“The CMAG and the Commonwealth Secretariat seem to be convinced that the Maldives, because of the high and favorable reputation that the country enjoys internationally, and also perhaps because it is a small State that lacks material power, would be an easy object that can be used, especially in the name of democracy promotion, to increase the organization’s own relevance and leverage in international politics.”
Expert technical assistance pledged by the Commonwealth had not been forthcoming. The CMAG asked the Maldives to interfere with independent judicial processes, which the government refused, said Attorney General Mohammad Anil.
A Commonwealth-backed national inquiry found that the Maldives was unfairly placed on the CMAG agenda in 2012, but the damage was already done.
The Maldives will continue to engage with countries and organizations that respect the country’s independence and sovereignty,said Foreign Minister Dr.Mohammad Asim. But the Commonwealth has not welcomed steps taken by the government to consolidate democracy, including the passage of more than 100 laws to strengthen the legal framework.