State Minister of Foreign Affairs and daughter of former President of 30 years Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Dunya Maumoon, has said the Maldives would likely leave the Commonwealth if not removed from the formal agenda of the Commonwealth’s human rights and democracy arm.
Speaking at a press conference held in the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, Dunya said, “We call on all the member countries of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to remove us from the agenda at the earliest possible opportunity. We do not altogether deserve to have been put on this agenda”.
Dunya stated that following the release of the report by the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI), many foreign countries had complimented the commission’s work. While she expressed concerns that “reactions from two countries are somewhat worrying”, she declined to name either country.
President Mohamed Waheed’s government reformed the CNI at the Commonwealth’s request, to include a representative from Nasheed and a foreign legal authority as co-chair. The government requested a retired Singaporean judge, and G P Selvam was duly appointed.
The final report, published at the end of last month, concluded that the transfer of power on Feburary 7 was constitutional, that President Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation was not made under duress, and that there had not been a police or military mutiny. It also noted that there were “acts of police brutality on 6, 7 and 8 February 2012 that must be investigated and pursued further by the relevant authorities.”
Nasheed’s representative Ahmed Saeed resigned from the CNI the evening prior to its publication, denouncing its credibility and alleging that the final report excluded testimony from key witnesses as well as crucial photo, audio and video evidence.
While subsequently accepting the report, Nasheed observed that it had effectively set a legal precedent under Maldivian law for the overthrow of an elected government through police or mob action.
This, he said, left the Maldives “in a very awkward, and in many ways, very comical” situation, “where toppling the government by brute force is taken to be a reasonable course of action. All you have to do find is a narrative for that course of action.”
CMAG ministers are due to consider the report in a teleconference on September 11.
Dunya said that should Maldives remain on the CMAG agenda following the teleconference, there were reservations within the government over whether the Maldives would choose to remain as a Commonwealth member.
She said there were a “huge number” of people who felt the Maldives should leave the intergovernmental organisation.
“Should the Maldives continue to be kept on the CMAG agenda, I have to say that there are a lot of citizens and very senior members of the government who have many serious concerns regarding whether the Maldives will stay on as a member of the Commonwealth,” Dunya said.
“There may not yet be an official decision by the President himself, or by any other high-level government official. We do not want to highlight this just yet. But from what I have heard, and the information I have received, there are a lot of people who no longer want [the Maldives] to remain a Commonwealth members.”
Dunya’s comments were echoed by President Waheed’s Political Advisor, Dr Hassan Saeed.
“CMAG seems in no hurry to remove the country from its agenda. This is a continuing infringement on our sovereignty and is tantamount to holding us hostage,” Saeed wrote, in an article for local newspaper Haveeru.
“Since the publication of the CoNI report there has been absolutely no justification for keeping the Maldives on CMAG agenda –not even for a single day,” he claimed.
“In view of this I would now argue that if CMAG does not remove the Maldives from its agenda in its next teleconference on 11th of this month, we should end our relationship with the Commonwealth and look to other relationships that reflect modern realities of the world,” Saeed said.
The CMAG had placed Maldives on its formal agenda in February, at the time citing ‘the questions that remain about the precise circumstances of the change of the government, as well as the fragility of the situation in Maldives’ as reasons.
The government has maintained that the CMAG ‘lacked mandate’ to place Maldives on the agenda. Following this there has been multiple instances where the government had expressed disapproval in what it termed ‘interference’ by the Commonwealth.
Members from the coalition government has submitted bills in the parliament in late April to withdraw Maldives from the Commonwealth.
The government itself has said in March that it “may reconsider” membership in the Commonwealth.