Commonwealth’s reputation at stake over failure of polls in the Maldives: Canada

The Commonwealth’s reputation is at stake following the obstruction of scheduled elections by police in the Maldives, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has warned.

“Canada is deeply disappointed that the rescheduled first round of presidential elections was delayed. The elections commission was not permitted to fulfill its constitutional mandate of managing and conducting these elections without interference,” Baird said in a statement.

Canada offered its “continued support for the perseverance of the Elections Commission of Maldives under these unacceptable circumstances.”

Baird reiterated that international election observers – including a delegation from the Commonwealth – had agreed that the annulled September 7 polls were free and fair.

“I repeat yet again that this series of delays flies in the face of the democratic values of the Commonwealth,” Baird said.

““A new date for the election must be set without delay and upheld by all parties concerned. The elections commission must be permitted to organise free, fair and inclusive elections without interference. Canada calls on all parties in Maldives to exercise restraint and remain calm in the interest of the Maldivian people, who should be permitted to express their democratic will through the ballot box. The people of Maldives deserve to have their voices heard,” he declared.

“Canada continues its call for robust Commonwealth engagement so that the electoral process can move forward and democracy can be strengthened in Maldives. The reputation of the Commonwealth is at stake,” he added.

EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said she was “deeply concerned” that the presidential election in the Maldives had again been prevented from taking place, and that the work of the Election Commission had to be halted following the intervention of the police.

“If the democratic process is to be brought back on track, a new date must be set without delay so that the Maldivian people can freely choose a new President by 11 November, in conformity with the constitution,” said Ashton.

“The EU reiterates its confidence in the impartiality and efficiency of the Maldivian Election Commission. It recalls that elections cannot successfully be held if the process can be repeatedly brought to a halt through legal injunctions. The forces of law and order must facilitate the democratic process,” she said in a statement.

“Failure to hold credible elections would be to deny the Maldivian people their democratic rights. Further instability would also damage the country’s economy and its relations with its international partners,” Ashton added.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon meanwhile said the 88 percent voter turnout in the September 7 poll clearly expressed “the aspirations and the will of the Maldivian people”.

“The Secretary-General strongly believes that the legitimate will of the people should not be denied,” read a statement from the UN.

Expressing “deep concern” over the delay of the vote “despite concerted efforts by the Maldives Elections Commission”, Ban Ki-moon urged “political leaders and state institutions to live up to their responsibilities, respect the democratic process and participate in a credible, peaceful and inclusive re-run election as soon as possible, so that a new president can be inaugurated on 11 November in accordance with the Constitution.”

Diplomatic spat

Earlier in October President Mohamed Waheed wrote a letter of complaint to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, accusing Baird of making “inappropriate and derogatory remarks” towards Acting Foreign Minister Mariyam Shakeela during the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG)’s meeting on September 27.

In his letter to Prime Minister Harper, Waheed complained that Baird “posed several harshly worded questions… concerning domestic politics in the Maldives”, and said these “put unnecessary pressure on an otherwise excellent relationship” between the Maldives and Canada.

Baird’s office responded to Waheed’s complaint by pointing out “the irony of the Acting Foreign Minister of the Maldives representing that country at CMAG, when her President received five percent of the vote in the first round of the election. Perhaps that is where President Waheed took offence.”

“It might have also been when Minister Baird pointed out to CMAG members that the second round of elections were ‘suspended’ under mysterious circumstances and called on Maldivian officials to proceed with the second round of elections without delay,” said Baird’s Spokesperson Rick Roth, in a statement.


17 thoughts on “Commonwealth’s reputation at stake over failure of polls in the Maldives: Canada”

  1. Because of Commonwealth we are in this situation. They blindly accepted the CONI report that the heartless Selvam wrote. Now it is the responsibility of commonwealth to get us out of this situation. The common people are suffering.

  2. they wont let us vote! they will face a definite defeat and thus will do whatever they can not to have an election here! perhaps resorting to violence is the only option we have if our international partners are enforcing an election here through just statements!

  3. The situation in Maldives is failure of Commonwealth, we blame commonwealth for putting Maldives in this situation by accepting a false report on Feb 7th. It's time for action not statements.

    Ibrahim be'


  4. Baird the Destroyer picks up his staff and smiteth the rascally Baaghee Waheed!

  5. I agree with Naina. The Secretary General of the Commonwealth should take responsibility for the failure of the CW missions to restore integrity in the democratic process in the Maldives. I am deeply disappointed by the CONI report and while I concede that Sir Don McKinnon had a tough job on his hands, it is unacceptable that the CW should have accepted the CONI report when it excluded vital evidence pointing towards a coup. The CONI investigation was a shoddy piece of work in my opinion and we are paying for it today.

  6. Baird argued the case to reject the CONI report but CW would not listen.

  7. Commonwealth has FAILED since 7th February 2012. Just statements would not effect on a Police state.

  8. What more than statements do you expect from the Commonwealth? Military intervention? That would help but I very much doubt they would consider such action. The problem here is an internal issue. It's upto the Maldivian people to find a solution.
    Personally I believe that the Commonwealth statements are helpful. It's better than remaining silent.

  9. I really must ask Mr. Baird what his or his government's interest is in Maldivian elections?

    I'm sure I will be hit by a barrage of platitudes about democracy and individual freedoms and liberty and what-not.

    But really, foreign relations is not based on ideals and altruism but realpolitik and strategic interests. What is Canada or the current Canadian government's interest in this regard? Surely a point worth thinking about.

  10. When did Commonwealth acquired a reputation in the fist place?

    And how many countries in Commonwealth are actual democracies in practice? India, Pakistan and Bangladesh is still ruled by families. Commonwealth Africa is far from a model for democracy. It would would not be wrong to say that 80% of Common Wealth subjects do not live in a democracy. .. so much for REPUTATION of Commonwealth after half a century of colonialism.

    Best to close the shop Mr. Biard.

  11. Maldivains does not vote in the Canadian elections yet Canada thinks it has a say in Maldivian affairs.

    How democratic is that?

  12. Thank you mr Baird for fighting for our basic human rights.

    Honestly, Coni and CMAG was the best chance to avoid all this but they seemed to fall for the slick lies and manipulation of puppet Waheed and the PPM.

    Now, the international community must act with real pressure, or we go back to the evil brutal dictatorship. S.O.S!!! Save Our Souls.

  13. You guys should be shame what you have done to our country and you should take all the responsibility what is happening in the country. We are going back to Stone Age. We have fight for our freedom and for the democracy but you have failed us with CONI report.

  14. @tsk tsk

    You should resign from the parliament. You are a shame to all Kulhudhuffushi people.

    Inhumane people like you will find it hard to hajam that other humans can be humane. The international community (including Canada) has only a humanitarian interest in Maldives. Don't you know that Maldives has nothing of interest (like black gold) to power-hungry countries such as United States?

    I agree with all the other commentators here that Commonwealth should accept responsibility and now face the mess created by that CORNY report.

  15. Maldivians have always found their own solutions to their local internal affairs... eg. end of Mohamed Ameen's presidency... We do not need International guidance, as international community often may not be able to swallow our local solutions.

  16. I don’t believe this issue is an internal issue. Because if this is an internal issue than why CW interfere on 7 February? Why they have investigate and brought a CONI report? All the opposition parties and waheed agree to fulfill the requirements on CONI report, but yet nothing has happen, not a single investigation or prosecute a single case. What I believe is CW is under waheed feet, the puppet of dictator Maumoon.


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