Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has this week discussed the Maldives’ membership in the Commonwealth, urging the country to “rethink the whole situation” in regards to its role in the organisation.
Gayoom’s comments were made as the Maldives comes under pressure from the 54 member state intergovernmental organisation to modify the terms of reference and composition of an independent body to ascertain the exact details of February’s controversial transfer of power in the country. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (GMAG) has said it would otherwise consider “stronger” measures against the government should it fail to establish a “credible” and “independent” Commission of National Inquiry (CNI).
Covering an address given by Gayoom Thursday evening at a ceremony to honour former Foreign Minister Fathulla Jameel, Haveeru reported the former president as saying the Maldives did not really have a basis to be a member of the Commonwealth.
The former president also claimed the Commonwealth’s role has changed since the Maldives joined back in 1982. Gayoom claimed the body has formerly worked with smaller nations to maintain their independence – a purpose he now questioned.
“The actions of the Commonwealth have changed since then, to a point where we now have to have a rethink about the whole situation. That’s how much the world has changed now,” he claimed
Gayoom’s said his comments were also based on the fact that the country had never itself been a former colony unlike neighbours such as India and Sri Lanka.
“We were under the protection of the British. That’s a different situation altogether. There wasn’t a British ruler in the form of a Governor General or a Governor in the Maldives. The leader of the nation had been a Maldivian even during that time. Hence Maldives really have no basis to become a member of the Commonwealth as the member States of the Commonwealth include nations that had been subject to British rule,” Gayoom was reported as saying.
The Sun Online news service meanwhile reported that Gayoom also noted concerns that the Commonwealth had changed from when the Maldives first joined as a member back in 1982 to a body representing larger countries aiming to “impose their influence on smaller ones.”
“Earlier, smaller nations had the opportunity to express their interests to the world through Commonwealth. That’s why we decided that Maldives should join Commonwealth. But now things are very different,” Sun Online quoted the former president as saying.
Some government-aligned MPs and political representatives have in recent weeks called on the state to renounce its membership in the Commonwealth. Hoever, the government itself has stressed it remains committed to the organisation and the CNI.