NEW DELHI: There is a “concerted move” to include developments in the Maldives on the agenda of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which has led Maldives Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon to threaten to quit the multilateral body. Sources confirmed to Express that there is a strong move to hold an extraordinary meeting to decide whether the eight-member group should discuss the trial and sentencing of former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed. The meeting may be held within the next two weeks.
This has drawn a furious response from Male, with the Foreign Minister informing Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamlesh Sharma that the Maldives “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”.
India is a member of the CMAG, which is chaired by Tanzania. Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Guyana, Solomon Islands, Sierra Leone, Cyprus and New Zealand are the other members.
The 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 will require External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to rush to London.
Sources said the process of putting a country on the CMAG’s agenda was “based on certain specific criteria”.
Developments in a country can be made an agenda only if they give rise to certain scenarios, which include the unilateral abrogation of a democratic constitution, suspension of Parliament and other institutions, postponement of national elections and the systematic denial of political space. With the recent thaw in the stand-off between the Maldives Government and the Opposition, it may become a little more difficult for CMAG members to be convinced that the Indian Ocean island nation requires to be put on watch. Last night, the MDP held talks with the government to bring an end to months of street protests. MDP leader Nasheed, who was convicted for 13 years on terrorism charges, was recently allowed to be placed under a two-month house arrest. Recently, Maldives Vice-President M Jameel Ahmed went to the UK, before the govt began impeachment process in Parliament.