The Commonwealth’s human rights and democracy arm, the Ministerial Action Group, has placed the Maldives “under formal consideration,” according to UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
His statement appears to contradict an announcement by the Maldivian foreign ministry on November 25 that the CMAG had decided not to place the Maldives on its formal agenda, a move the government claims blocks investment here.
Explaining the contradiction, a diplomat who wished to remain anonymous said the CMAG’s report on the Maldives was “worded carefully so it could be read either way, but Commonwealth scrutiny has increased.”
The CMAG places countries on its agenda if elections are postponed, if political activities are suppressed and if there is systematic and widespread violations of rule of law or the independence of the judiciary.
Cameron, briefing MPs on November 30 in a statement to the UK parliament, said he “welcomed the report of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group and the decision to put the Maldives under formal consideration and to visit there in early 2016.”
The Commonwealth, an intergovernmental body of 53 nations, “has an important role to play in helping its members adhere to its values,” he said.
Following former President Mohamed Nasheed’s ouster in 2012, the Maldives was placed on the CMAG’s agenda for the first time. An inquiry later found the transfer of power to be legal. Nasheed’s imprisonment in March this year renewed scrutiny, prompting the government to threaten to leave the Commonwealth.
Cameron on November 28 urged Commonwealth nations to take action against the Maldives over “unacceptable” events, including the jailing of political prisoners.
He has repeatedly urged Yameen to release Nasheed, whose imprisonment on a terrorism charge has been called illegal and arbitrary by the UN.
The Maldives Independent is awaiting comment from the Commonwealth Secretariat and the foreign ministry.