President requests Majlis counsel on leaving Commonwealth

President requests Majlis counsel on leaving Commonwealth
July 19 21:04 2015

President Abdulla Yameen has requested parliamentary counsel on leaving the Commonwealth amidst lobby efforts by some member countries for an assessment of Maldives’ alleged violations of the organization’s principles following the imprisonment of opposition politicians, including former President Mohamed Nasheed.

The president’s letter will be read out and put up for debate at a People’s Majlis sitting tomorrow.

The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) parliamentary group held a meeting this afternoon with President Yameen, Attorney General Mohamed Anil and tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb to assess the pros and cons of the Maldives staying with the Commonwealth.

PPM parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nihan told the press the attorney general and the tourism minister briefed MPs on the legal and economic aspects of leaving the Commonwealth. He declined to comment further.

The cabinet on Thursday also called for a review of how Maldives benefits from being part of the Commonwealth.

Earlier this month, foreign minister Dunya Maumoon said the Maldives “will seriously consider its membership at the Commonwealth” if it is placed on the agenda of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) for a second time in four years.

The Maldives was previously placed on the CMAG’s agenda “on an unfair basis, based on false allegations, and the country’s economy and democratic governance suffered significantly as a result,” Dunya said.

The CMAG in early July decided not to review the Maldives.

Former foreign minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed said that the CMAG only granted the Maldives further time to “sort out [the] mess Maldives is in.”

Dunya maintains there are no “serious and persistent violation of Commonwealth political values in the Maldives.”

The Maldives was placed on the CMAG agenda from March 2012 – March 2013 after President Nasheed resigned amidst a police and military mutiny. He later alleged he had been ousted in a coup d’état.

A Commonwealth backed inquiry found the transfer of power to be constitutional.

In mid-June, Canada had called on CMAG to “urgently put the deteriorating situation in the Maldives on its formal agenda.” The Commonwealth’s democracy and human rights arm can recommend measures for collective action to restore democracy and constitutional rule.

Diplomatic pressure has been mounting on President Yameen to release Nasheed and other jailed politicians, including two former defence ministers and a ruling party MP.

Photo: Opposition supporters carry Commonwealth flags at a protest in 2012

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