Maldives to Leave Commonwealth Weeks After Democracy Warning

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen. Credit: Reuters

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen. Credit: Reuters

The Maldives said on Thursday it will leave the Commonwealth, weeks after the organisation warned it could be suspended because of its lack of progress in promoting rule of law and democracy.

Best known as a paradise for wealthy tourists, the Indian Ocean archipelago has been mired in political unrest since Mohamed Nasheed, its first democratically elected leader, was ousted in disputed circumstances in 2012.

The decision comes as the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group last month warned the Maldives that in the absence of substantive progress in rule of law and democracy, it would consider its options, including suspension.

The Commonwealth comprises 53 states that were mostly former British colonies.

“The decision to leave the Commonwealth was difficult, but inevitable,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“Regrettably, the Commonwealth has not recognised that progress and achievements that the Maldives accomplished in cultivating a culture of democracy in the country and in building and strengthening democratic institutions.”

President Abdulla Yameen’s administration reintroduced the death penalty in July, rejecting repeated requests by right groups and the West.

Nasheed, in exile in Britain after being allowed out of jail to go there for medical treatment, formed the Maldives United Opposition in June with the aim of toppling Yameen.

Yameen’s administration has arrested most of his opponents. The opposition says the administration is trying to cover up corruption, including money laundering, the accusations of which the government has denied.