By TLEP Contributors
A hastily arranged press conference, chaired by the Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, was held at Marlborough House, London on Wednesday, February 22nd following an extraordinary meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group(CMAG) to consider its response to the situation in Maldives following ‘the resignation’ of the democratically elected President there.
The CMAG meeting was chaired by the Trinidad and Tobago Foreign Minister, Dr Surujrattan Rambachan who led the three-man Commonwealth ministerial mission to Maldives. He was accompanied by the Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni and Dennis Richardson, the Secretary in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs. The Commonwealth mission visited Maldives between 17th and 19th February to ascertain the facts ‘surrounding the transfer of power’ and ‘to promote adherence to Commonwealth values and principles’.
A statement issued afterwards said ‘in keeping with the Commonwealth’s well-established principles of inclusiveness and equity’, the mission ‘heard a statement from Dr Hassan Saed, advisor to the new President of Maldives, as well as from Dr Farahanaz Faizal, who represented the former President’. Having considered the mission’s report and reviewed all the information available to it, ‘CMAG agreed it was not possible, in the allotted time, to determine conclusively the constitutionality of the resignation of President Nasheed on February 7, 2012.’
CMAG therefore agreed that ‘an independent and impartial investigation of the events of February 6 and 7 should be completed in a transparent manner within a reasonable timeframe.’ The statement noted that the new President of Maldives, Dr Mohamed Waheed had set up a three-member commission of inquiry for this purpose on February 21st. CMAG felt strongly that there should be ‘international participation in any investigative mechanism as may be mutually agreed by political parties in Maldives’. It also recognized the ‘need for healing in Maldives’. The group urged President Waheed and former President Nasheed to begin an immediate dialogue, without preconditions, to agree on a date for future elections which should take place within a calendar year.
Such a dialogue, CMAG said, should facilitate the opening of the Majlis (parliamentary) session as scheduled on March 1st, 2012. The Commonwealth Secretary-General was asked to use his good office in Maldives and his intention to appoint a Special Envoy for the purpose was welcomed by the group. CMAG noted the assurance of the new Maldives government that former President Nasheed would continue to receive the protection and privileges provided for under the country’s Constitution. The group said that when a member of CMAG was under scrutiny, its CMAG membership should be placed in abeyance as long as it remained on the formal agenda. So it was decided that Maldives should not participate during this time.