On Thursday, the Maldives announced its decision to leave the 53-member Commonwealth of Nations, less than a month after it was warned of suspension by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) if it failed to take further steps to encourage political dialogue, release its opposition leaders and improve democratic institutions.
On September 23, the Maldives was put on the CMAG’s formal agenda and was cautioned that if no “substantive” progress was made in the six identified priority areas, the archipelago could be suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth at the next meeting in March 2017.
The Maldives has been under international scrutiny over its crackdown on opposition leaders, especially over the jailing of the most senior members of the main parties, including former President Mohamed Nasheed.
After being released on medical leave, Nasheed went to London where he was eventually granted asylum. He will not be allowed to participate in the 2018 presidential elections.
Following the CMAG’s decision, the Maldivian government had renewed invitations for opposition parties to join an all-party dialogue. But earlier this week, the opposition claimed that the government was creating roadblocks in the dialogue process by ruling out talks with jailed leaders and asking only for representatives endorsed by party governing councils.