Two years ago the Maldives left the Commonwealth whilst under the power of autocratic president Abdulla Yameen. Mr Yameen and his government had been facing pressure from the Commonwealth on the issues of their human rights record and the rule of law. The Maldives had been warned by the bloc of potential suspension due to concerns about freedom of speech, arrests and judicial independence.
Opponents to Mr Yameen had been arrested, and under the reign of new president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih have since been released.
Political prisoners have also been released and exiled opposition figures have been allowed to return under the new president’s reign.
Mr Solih has now requested to rejoin the Commonwealth, writing last week to Commonwealth secretary-general Patricia Scotland to outline his government’s commitment to rejoin the bloc.
The statement from the new president said he had “highlighted the administration’s belief in the values of democracy, good governance, human rights, gender equality and sustainable development in the Maldives.”
It added: “His administration does not believe in the success of such endeavours whilst maintaining a policy of isolation from the outside world.”
The Maldives, a former British colony, first joined the Commonwealth in 1982.
Will the Queen allow the Maldives to rejoin the Commonwealth?
The Queen is the head of the Commonwealth and the head of state of 16 member states, which are known as the Commonwealth realms.
Previously countries have left and then later rejoined the Commonwealth.
One example this is Zimbabwe, who terminated their membership from the organisation in 1972 in protest of the Commonwealth recognising breakaway Bangladesh.
However, Zimbabwe rejoined the Commonwealth on August 2, 1989. They have since left the organisation again, and requested to rejoin in May this year.
In order for a country to join the Commonwealth, the country will need to have had a constitutional association with an existing Commonwealth member; should comply with Commonwealth values, principles and priorities as set out in the Harare Declaration.
It should also accept Commonwealth norms and conventions.
The Commonwealth has the power to suspend countries should their government not follow the values and principles of the bloc.
It is not down to the Queen whether the Maldives should be allowed to rejoin, as the role of Head of the Commonwealth is largely symbolic.
There is instead a Secretary-General who represents the Commonwealth and is in charge of communication between member states. The Commonwealth secretary-general is Patricia Scotland.
According to the official Commonwealth website: “The Secretary-General is responsible for representing the Commonwealth publicly and is the Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Secretariat which supports dialogue and collaboration between member governments at the intergovernmental level.”
Full details are available at the link below:
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