Maldives was officially readmitted to the Commonwealth on Saturday more than three years after the Indian Ocean archipelago nation quit the organisation over criticism of its human rights record, taking the count of the bloc’s membership countries back to 54.
The island nation’s rejoining came just over an hour after the United Kingdom left the European Union following 47 years of membership.
The island nation had quit the Commonwealth in October 2016 after being threatened with suspension over its human rights record and lack of progress on democratic reform.
It submitted a request to rejoin in December 2018, when President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih wrote to Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland.
“The reform process underway in Maldives aligns with the values and principles of the Commonwealth and we encourage the nation to continue on this path,” said Baroness Scotland, as she welcomed the country and its people back to the fold.
“Commonwealth members were pleased to note these developments and are happy once again to count Maldives as a member of the family. Together we will support Maldives to realise its ambitions,” she said.
The readmission followed “due diligence”, which included country assessment and consultations in accordance with the rules and procedures agreed by the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) in Kampala in 2007. India was one of the countries that had supported the country’s readmission.
“Today is a happy day for Maldivians as we return to the family of Commonwealth nations. As a young democracy, the Commonwealth’s foundational values of the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, multilateralism and world peace remain relevant to us more than ever,” Maldives President Solih said.
“We gratefully acknowledge the support and help of the Commonwealth to the Maldivian democratic movement, and we look forward to the support of fellow member states to ensure the long term entrenchment of these values in our society,” he said.
The Commonwealth Secretariat said the assessment included two site visits to the country followed by positive feedback given by a Commonwealth Observer Group which was present for the Parliamentary Elections in April 2019.
Members subsequently agreed to invite Maldives to submit a formal application, which it did on December 25 last year. The country presented evidence of functioning democratic processes as well as popular support for re-joining.
The Secretary-General then consulted with all 53 Commonwealth members and received no objections. The country will now be part of the CHOGM scheduled for Kigali in Rwanda on June 22-28.
Maldives Ambassador to the UK Farah Faizal, now becomes its High Commissioner, signifying Commonwealth membership.
Maldives joined the Commonwealth in 1982 and was a member until it withdrew in 2016.
The Commonwealth is a political association of 54 member states, nearly all of them former territories of the British Empire. Its members have agreed to shared goals like development, democracy and peace.
Any country can join the modern Commonwealth. The last country to join the Commonwealth was Rwanda in 2009.Get access to India’s fastest growing financial subscriptions service Moneycontrol Pro for as little as Rs 599 for first year. Use the code “GETPRO”. Moneycontrol Pro offers you all the information you need for wealth creation including actionable investment ideas, independent research and insights & analysis For more information, check out the Moneycontrol website or mobile app.