The Maldives is to remain on the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG)’s agenda under the item “Matters of Interest to CMAG”, however its suspension from the international body’s democracy and human rights arm has been revoked.
The decision means Foreign Minister Abdul Samad will be able to able to participate in CMAG affairs following the Maldives’ suspension in February over concerns about the nature of the transition of power.
A Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) claimed in August that the transfer of power was legitimate, that former President Nasheed was not under duress, and that there was no police mutiny.
Despite significant reservations regarding evidence and witness statements that had not been considered, Nasheed said he was accepting the findings for political expediency. However it had, 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.”
In the CMAG statement, “Ministers noted the report’s conclusion that the change of President in the Republic of Maldives on 7 February 2012 was legal and constitutional, but also that certain acts of police brutality had occurred during that period which should be further investigated. They looked forward to advice from the Government of Maldives on progress with those investigations.”
CMAG also “underlined their concern that all parties in Maldives needed to work towards resolving the climate of division and discontent in order to bring about lasting national reconciliation.”
“Ministers noted the importance of ensuring that the Majlis worked purposefully on critical legislation, without further risk of disruption. Ministers again urged against any actions that might provoke or incite violence.”
Nasheed is this week facing trial for defaming the Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim for describing him as a “baghee” (traitor), and detaining Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed during his administration. Nasheed’s party have dismissed the charges as an attempt to convict and disqualify Nasheed from the upcoming Presidential elections, using courts loyal to the former 30 year regime.
“Ministers urged party leaders to commit to dialogue, paving the way to credible elections. Ministers emphasised the need to ensure that all parties and leaders are able freely to conduct election campaigns,” the CMAG statement read.
“In accordance with CMAG’s enhanced mandate, as agreed by leaders at the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Ministers further agreed that they would continue to engage with Maldives positively and constructively to support Maldives in advancing the Affirmation of Commonwealth Values and Principles, in particular in strengthening the judiciary, in the process of democratic consolidation and in institution building. In this context, Ministers asked the secretary-general to continue to brief the Group on progress in Maldives, including at CMAG’s next meeting,” read the statement.
“Accordingly, CMAG agreed to continue to monitor the situation in Maldives, and to move consideration of Maldives in future to its agenda item “Matters of Interest to CMAG”. Ministers looked forward to Maldives’ resumption of full participation at CMAG’s next meeting, in the absence of any serious concerns.”
On the agenda
The CMAG placed the Maldives on its formal agenda in February although President Waheed’s government has maintained that the group “lacked the mandate“ to to so.
Waheed’s government also spent £75,000 (MVR 1.81 million) on advice from former UK Attorney General and member of the House of Lords, Baroness Patricia Scotland, in a bid to challenge what they deemed was the Commonwealth’s “biased” stance on the Maldives, and has continued to express disapproval at what it terms “interference” by the Commonwealth.
“It is my belief that the Commonwealth and its institutions have treated us very badly,” wrote President Waheed’s Special Advisor Dr Hassan Saeed in a newspaper column.
“I would now argue that if CMAG does not remove the Maldives from its agenda, we should end our relationship with the Commonwealth and look to other relationships that reflect modern realities of the world.”
The Hulhumale Magistrate Court has meanwhile confined Nasheed to Male’ ahead of his trial this week. His legal team have expressed concern over a host of irregularities, such as the appointment of a panel of three judges not from the Hulhulmale court – that they say will deny the former President a fair trial.
The matter is likely to come to a head this week, after Nasheed’s party decided that it would no longer follow any orders given by the courts of the Maldives until the changes proposed by international entities were brought to the Maldivian judicial system.
The party said the decision was reached as to date, they had observed no efforts to improve the judicial system based on the recommendations put forward in reports released by numerous international organisations.