Maldives Upset Over Commonwealth Move to Discuss Nasheed

Dunya Maumoon said that her country will \"seriously consider its membership at the Commonwealth if the organisation continues to treat it on a selective basis and unfairly, in violation of the Commonwealth\'s own rules\".

Published: 02nd July 2015 10:57 PM  |   Last Updated: 02nd July 2015 10:57 PM   |  A+A-

By IANS

NEW DELHI/MALE: The Maldivian government has reacted angrily to a reported proposal by many Commonwealth countries, including Canada, calling for the Maldives to be put on the agenda of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) over the trial and sentencing of former president Mohamed Nasheed.

Maldivian Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon called up Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma on Wednesday to convey that her country will "seriously consider its membership at the Commonwealth if the organisation continues to treat it on a selective basis and unfairly, in violation of the Commonwealth's own rules".

According to the foreign ministry, Maumoon told the secretary general that there were "no persistent or serious issues of undermining of Commonwealth principles in the Maldives".

While the CMAG has not made an official statement whether the Maldives will be under review, or on what grounds it may discuss the country, many countries including Canada have publicly called for the Maldives be put on the agenda condemning the trial and the 13-year jail sentence slapped on Nasheed on terrorism charges.

India would attend the CMAG special session if it is called, a source told IANS.

India had earlier voiced "deep concern over the developments" after the sentencing of Nasheed in March.

The CMAG deals with "serious or persistent violations of the Harare Declaration, which contains the Commonwealth's fundamental political values". Established by the Commonwealth heads of government in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1995, the CMAG's task is to assess the nature of infringements and recommend measures for collective Commonwealth action aimed at speedy restoration of democracy and constitutional rule, says the website.

The Maldives has drawn international flak for the human rights situation over the trial and sentencing of the former president.

Amal Clooney, one of the team of lawyers representing Nasheed, has filed a case to the UN urging it to rule his detention arbitrary and in violation of international law. She has said the sentence was designed to punish Nasheed for criticising the regime and remove him as a political threat.

The European Union has also called for Nasheed's immediate release. Canada in June called on the Commonwealth to urgently put the deteriorating situation in the Maldives on its CMAG's formal agenda.

Along with Canada, the United States, European Union, Britain, UN Human Rights Council, Amnesty International, Asian Centre for Human Rights, International Service for Human Rights have in the last month condemned the deteriorating democratic and human rights situation in the Maldives.

Maumoon told Kamalesh Sharma that the CMAG "failed to take action" when jailed former president Nasheed "publicly defied and abrogated the Constitution and abducted a sitting judge".

She said that "the trust that had begun to build between the Maldives and the Commonwealth will be seriously undermined if the Maldives is placed on the CMAG agenda" and noted that the government has shown good faith in engaging with the Commonwealth, according to the raajje.mv news site.

The Maldives was last placed on the CMAG Agenda in March 2012 after the ousting of Nasheed, described by the opposition as a coup d'etat.

After a Commonwealth-backed investigation concluded that the change of power was legal, the Maldives was removed from the Agenda in March 2013.

Minister Dunya Maumoon noted the incident and said "the CMAG placed the Maldives on its agenda on an unfair basis, based on false allegations, and the country's economy and democratic governance suffered significantly as a result", said raajje.mv.

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