Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali has told local media that his party would not support a bill submitted to parliament this week calling for the Maldives to renounce its membership in the Commonwealth.
Thasmeen told reporters from several of the country’s major news outlets that he deemed the bill – forwarded on Sunday (April 29) by Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Ilham and Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MP Riyaz Rasheed – as “not responsible”.
The DRP leader was also reported to be critical of amendments proposed by parliament’s Finance Committee to the country’s universal healthcare scheme.
The DRP, which serves in President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s coalition government alongside the PPM and DQP, has said he believes the motion to leave the Commonwealth may “negatively affect the country and its people”, the Sun Online news agency reported today.
The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (GMAG) has increased pressure over the last month on the Maldives government to revise the composition and mandate of an independent commission established to ascertain the nature of the controversial transfer of power in February.
CMAG said that “stronger measures” would be considered against the Maldives over the next month if it failed to enact changes to the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) to ensure it was more “credible” and “independent”.
Despite not welcoming the calls to withdraw from the Commonwealth, Thasmeen added that the DRP did not support all of the CMAG’s calls since February’s controversial transfer of power. He was notably critical in regards to the exact details of CMAG’s demand for more independent representation on the CNI.
“We notice that CMAG’s comments regarding the inquiry commission are not very clear. So we have to find out what Commonwealth wants exactly – whether they would accept if foreign technical assistants were included in the Commission. Right now we are hearing different things. These things have to be clarified,” Sun Online reported Thasmeen as saying.
Meanwhile, Haveeru reported Thasmeen as claiming that neither Ahmed Ilham, Riyaz Rasheed or representatives of their respective parties had consulted the DRP on forwarding the motion to the People’s Majlis.
Yesterday, a PPM MP speaking to Minivan News on condition of anonymity said that he had not been aware of any discussions within his own party about seeking parliamentary approval to renounce the country’s Commonwealth membership in parliament.
“From my view it is not something that has been discussed within the PPM yet,” the MP said yesterday. “I have previously expressed my concern that [leaving the Commonwealth] is not the best way to solve this issue. It is not really a choice we can take,” he said. “I would still say that there is a chance to sit down together and discuss this matter.”
Aside from the CMAG issue, Thasmeen was also reported to be critical of amendments proposed by parliament’s Finance Committee to the country’s universal health care scheme, Aasandha.
Should parliament pass the amendments proposed in the committee’s report, the Aasandha service would only be available in the government’s Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) and other government health centres and health corporations around the country.
Thasmeen claimed that the provision of amendments by the parliamentary Finance Committee was not the “right way to go” to bring about changes to the scheme and could undermine parliament’s role in holding the government to account in future, Haveeru reported.
DRP leader Thasmeen added that should amendments to the scheme need to be made, he did not want to see the cessation of free healthcare to the public.