NEW DELHI: There is a “concerted move” to place Maldives on the agenda of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, which led Maldives foreign minister Dunya Maumoon to threaten to leave the multilateral body.
Sources confirmed to Express that there is a strong move to get the 8-member CMAG to hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss whether Maldives should be brought into the agenda. The meeting could be held within next two weeks to take a decision.
This led to a furious response from Male’, with foreign minister Dunya Maumoon informing Commonwealth Secretary General Kamlesh Sharma that Maldives “will seriously consider its membership at the Commonwealth if the organization will continue to treat it on a selective basis and unfairly, in violation of the Commonwealth’s own rules”.
India is a member of the 8-member CMAG, which is currently being chaired by Tanzania. Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Guyana, Solomon Islands, Sierra Leone, Cyprus and New Zealand made up the entire group.
CMAG was set up in 1995 to "deal with persistent and serious violators of the Commonwealth's shared principles"
If the meeting is held, it would require external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to rush to London, since this is a ministerial-level meeting.
Sources said that the process of putting a country is not a “subjective one, but only based on certain specific criteria”.
Maldives can only be brought onto the agenda if it “triggers” off certain criteria – which include unilateral abrogration of democratic constitution, suspension of parliament and other institutions, postponement of national elections and systematic denial of political space, such as through detention of political leaders.
With the recent thaw in the stand-off between the Maldives government and opposition, it may become a little more difficult for the CMAG members to be convinced that the Indian island ocean nation requires to be put on watch. Last night, Maldives Democratic Party held talks with the government to bring an end to the months of street protest. The MDP leader Mohamed Nasheed who was convicted for 13 years for terrorism charges, was recently allowed to be on house arrest for 2 months.
Recently, the Maldives Vice President M Jameel Ahmed went to UK, just before the government began the process of his impeachment. The government’s move has been backed by the entire opposition in parliament.
Maldives was earlier placed on the CMAG agenda from March 2012 to March 2013, after Nasheed resigned amidst an opposition campaign, culminating a military and policy mutiny.