President Mohamed Waheed Hassan has accepted an invitation from the Commonwealth to attend Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.
As the head of a Commonwealth member nation, President Waheed was invited to attend the celebration by Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma, the President’s Office stated.
“Prresident Dr Mohamed Waheed is pleased to accept the invitation for the President and First Lady Madam Ilham Hussain, to attend the Diamond Jubilee luncheon of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth,” the President’s Office stated.
“The Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Kamalesh Sharma invited the President and the First Lady, in an official letter, to attend the luncheon, where Commonwealth governments would officially celebrate Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.”
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) was today distributing a letter from Secretary General Sharma to former President Mohamed Nasheed, dated December 6, 2011, inviting him to a lunch at Marlborough House on Wednesday, June 6, 2012, to be attended by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
“This will follow the weekend of official celebrations of the Jubilee in the UK,” the letter stated.
The Maldives is currently on the formal agenda of the Commonwealth’s Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), following the controversial transfer of power on February 7. CMAG has called for an independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding this transfer of power, as well elections in 2012.
The government – and President Waheed – last week complied with a demand to reconstitute the commission of national inquiry after CMAG criticised its independence, however Waheed also challenged CMAG’s mandate to place the Maldives on its agenda.
Speaking to diplomats at the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi during his recent official visit to India, Dr Waheed also accused CMAG of being unduly influenced by the opposition MDP, and attempting to “intimidate” and “punish” the government.
Parties in the new ruling coalition also proposed a motion to pre-emptively withdraw from the Commonwealth. MP of the coalition Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), Riyaz Rasheed, attacked the Commonwealth’s commitment to democracy by slandering the Queen and claiming the UK was not a democracy.
“Look, the Queen has been in power for 50 years. Is that good? No, that’s inappropriate. If we wanted to point fingers, we can,” he said.
“After 50 years, the English Queen, she is physically challenged. But she is still Queen, and if she wants she can remove the Prime Minister. Where is democracy? Where is democracy? That is not a democracy,” he added.
In response, Chairman of the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on the Maldives, MP David Amess, was reported to have said in a March meeting that the Maldives government apologise for the outburst, and suggested that President Waheed’s attendance at the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations would be inappropriate.
Minivan News understands that the Secretary General has issued fresh invitations to heads of government in Commonwealth countries that have experienced a change in leadership since the originals were sent, such as Jamaica, Bahamas and Malawi.
Former High Commissioner to the UK, Dr Farahanaz Faizal, said she was not sure if the invitation was re-issued, or if Waheed had replied to Nasheed’s invite.
“In any case, unless the invitation was recalled, Waheed as head of government can attend, as the invitation was to the Head of Government,” she said. “So there is nothing untoward about Waheed attending the lunch hosted by the Commonwealth Secretary-General. It is an invitation for a luncheon at Marlborough House, not part of the UK government’s official [Jubilee] celebrations.”