Maldives to quit Commonwealth?



by Zacki Jabbar in Male

Former Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and a Minister in Abdulla Yamin's newly elected coalition government have called for the Maldives to quit the Commonwealth, which they said has lost its focus and was interfering in others internal affairs.

Accusing the Commonwealth of dictating terms to small states, the Ex-Head of State who ruled for thirty years, pointed out that there was a time when the 53-member grouping assisted the Maldives development programmes and also helped secure its borders, but of late it had even tried to influence the outcome of last November's Presidential Election by accusing the Supreme Court of ‘unnecessarily intervening in the electoral process’.

Informed sources revealed that Gayoom had recently suggested to the outgoing

President Mohammed Waheed to pull the Maldives out of the Commonwealth, but a decision had been put on the back burner due to the turmoil the country was in at that time.

Gayoom, who lost to Mohammed Nasheed in the archipelago's first multi party Presidential Poll in 2008, has, even out of power, wielded considerable influence. With his half brother Abdullah Yamin elected President last month the debate on whether it should remain in the Commonwealth has been revived. If the organisation continued to abdicate its founding principles and took on the role of a global policemen, it was pointless being a part of it, the former Head of State who has been accused of governing with an iron fist, observed.

Islamic Affairs Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem, said that the 53-member grouping had lost its relevance, since its assistance to Maldives was negligible, even miniscule in proportion to the extent to which it was trying to "guide" their destiny.

To accuse the judiciary of having interfered with the democratic process, when it had based on facts upheld a Jumhoory Party petition in declaring the first round of the Presidential Election null and void, on the grounds of vote rigging was preposterous, he noted, adding that it was the 16-point guideline issued by the Court, that ensured the smooth conduct of the November 16, run-off and the verdict being accepted by all the three candidates Yamin, Nasheed and Qasim Ibrahim.

The Supreme Court was called upon to interpret the Constitution, when ever any dispute or difference of opinion arose. To describe its performance of duty as

‘interference’ was a blatant violation of another country's sovereignty, the

Minister said.

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