The MDP Condemns in the Strongest Terms the Yameen Government’s Decision to Leave the Commonwealth; Calls Upon the International Community to Remain Steadfast with the People of the Maldives

The Maldivian Democratic Party condemns in the strongest terms the Government of Maldives’ decision to leave the Council of Commonwealth. The decision was taken unilaterally by the Cabinet, and comes unexpectedly.

On 13 October, the Government announced that the Cabinet of Ministers’ decision for the Maldives to leave the Commonwealth. The decision comes after the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, On 23 September 2016, placed Maldives on the Commonwealth’s formal agenda and warned of suspension by March 2017 from the Councils of the Commonwealth “in the absence of substantive progress across the priority areas.”

The Government quit the Commonwealth saying “the CMAG and the Commonwealth Secretariat seem to be convinced that the Maldives, because of the high and favourable reputation that the country enjoys internationally, and also perhaps because it is a small state that lacks material power, would be an easy object that can be used, especially in the name of democracy promotion, to increase the organisation’s own relevance and leverage in international politics.”

The membership with the Commonwealth of Nations is one of the Maldives’s most long- standing relationships. Since establishing ties in 1982, the Maldives has benefited in trade, commerce, travel, medicine, education, sports & youth development, and much more. The Government’s decision today will bring irredeemable damage in these areas, and for the Maldives’ standing in the international community.

The decision was taken unilaterally by the Cabinet and the Executive, without consultation with the Parliament or the people of the Maldives. The people of the Maldives have always been progressive and confidently engaged with the outside world and the international community. With this move, the Yameen Government is destroying an intricately built relationship of many years. The MDP strongly feels the people of the Maldives must have the ultimate say in a decision of such magnitude.

This decision by the Government of Maldives today is a knee-jerk reaction to widespread international condemnation of the Government’s continued human rights violations, endemic corruption and the increasing accusations of money laundering. Through its corrupt, brutish, amoral governance conducted with complete disregard to the rights of the Maldivian people, the Government has cornered itself into a pariah state. The Yameen Government appears to believe that with this isolationism from the community of democratic nations, it will be able to escape further scrutiny or castigation.

The MDP calls upon the Government of the Maldives to address the relentless calls for reform, rather than continuing this petulance. The Government will be held accountable for its violations of internationally established standards of human rights, democracy and good governance. The MDP reminds the Government that the decision to leave the Commonwealth, does not mean that international censure and criticism of the Government will cease. Nor does it negate the veracity and validity of such criticism. Furthermore, the fact remains that the Government of Maldives is still bound by the laws and norms of international society to respect its human rights and rule of law obligations.

“President Yameen has made the Maldives a very isolated place. This is an absolute despotic move, which says much about the Yameen regime and its political posturing and disregard for international or public opinion. President Yameen might think moving away from international scrutiny might prolong his stay on power. The people of the Maldives will not, however, forgive Yameen for plunging them into this. We urge the international community to not let the people suffer for the deeds of this Government, and urge the international community to remain steadfast with the people of the Maldives. We are more in need of international scrutiny and action than ever before,” said MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor.