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Mohamed Nasheed

UN Expresses Worry Over Increased Polarisation In Maldives; Here’s What Others Said In Past

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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern on the increasing polarisation in the Maldives, which has made dialogue among the Government and political parties increasingly difficult. This is the second time during the year when UN chief expressed concern over the increasingly autocratic regime under President Abdulla Yameen.

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Ban Ki-moon in a statement released on Saturday said:

The Secretary-General strongly encourages all concerned to work toward an inclusive dialogue aimed at finding mutually acceptable solutions based on compromise, the primacy of the national interest and the preservation of democratic principles and institutions.

Earlier in May, Ban had also expressed the need to establish political dialogue among all stakeholders and urged the Maldivian government to grant clemency to former president Mohamed Nasheed who was locked up in Maafushi jail that time.

Besides the apex human rights body, other human rights watchdog had been expressing concern over the deteriorating political situation in the country. Here’s what all has been said so far:


On Muzzling Political Voice


In September, CHRI said that the nations is sliding into a dictatorial system once again and the situation will soon push the island nation into the brink of and anarchy.

Suspend, exclude and halt the current government.

Following CHRI’s report Commonwealth had put the Maldives on agenda and threatened suspension by March next year. However, President and his men decided to leave the Commonwealth on October 13.

In August, United States’ lawmakers slammed government by saying that the legitimate political space is “narrowing” in the country. The US blamed government’s intolerance for putting many opposition politicians behind bars adding that they are being sent to jail after flawed judicial processes.

’s Special Convoy to the , also warned government of international consequences and said that the country facing “severe deficit”.

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein at the 32nd Human Rights Council session in Geneva in July had expressed concern about the “shrinking democratic space” in the country and said the use of terrorism related charges “troubled” him.

In July, European Union opposed to capital punishment in “all cases and without exception” and urged government to continue to apply the “’de facto moratorium’” on executions as a first step towards its abolition.


Death Penalty


Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein also expressed worry over implementation of death penalty in the country. He also cited the “flagrant irregularities” in Humam’s trial, describing it as “a rushed process that appears to contravene the Maldives’ own laws and practices and international fair trial standards in a number of respects.”

U.N. logo pattern a press conference background at the United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)


Four United Nations human rights experts in July also urged the government to halt the execution of Hussain Humam Ahmed, and to re-try him in compliance with international standards.They called on the authorities to uphold the unofficial moratorium on capital punishment in force for the last six decades.

Criminal proceedings against Mr. Ahmed did not afford him guarantees of fair trial and due process,” said the independent experts on arbitrary detention, summary executions, torture and independence of the judiciary. The implementation of a death sentence following judicial procedures which do not respect the most stringent guarantees of fair trial and due process is unlawful and tantamount to an arbitrary execution.

Freedom Of Press


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, the international watchdog for press freedom, had termed the ’ government’s assault on the country’s independent “utterly absurd and unacceptable”. The organization slammed President ’s regime after a court banned former journalists with the now-defunct newspaper, Haveeru, from working at any other organization, saying it could only lead to authoritarianism and the end of democracy.

Benjamin Ismaïl, head of Asia-Pacific desk at the RSF, said:

The court’s verdict not only violates the fundamental rights of all the journalists which it targets, but it also confirms, if need be, that the judiciary is serving the government’s policy to suppress critical and independent media in the country.

Maldives has been ranked 112th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2015 World Press Freedom Index, after falling 60 places since 2010.


Nasheed’s Trial & Human Right Abuses


In May, European Union adopted a resolution to adopt a resolution seeking imposition of sanctions on the country, the government has hit back calling it “inappropriate” and “irresponsible”.

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The resolution was passed condemning the frequent “human rights abuses” committed during President Abdulla Yameen’s regime.

Around same time, an official fact-finding mission report prepared by the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) raised questions over the arrest of former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed saying that it was without legal basis and that he must be provided with a transparent appeal hearing.

Renowned human rights body Amnesty International termed the conviction of Nasheed after a deeply flawed and politically motivated trial is a “travesty of justice.”

Ex-Prez Nasheed Advocates Need For Low Carbon Strategy At UK’s Heathrow Expansion Protest

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Former President Mohamed Nasheed, the poster boy of climate change in the Maldives, has joined a protest against the expansion of Heathrow airport in the United Kingdom as it would lead to higher CO2 emissions.

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Nasheed joined the protest M4 spur road on Saturday alongside various environment protection agencies and voiced his concerns against possible negative repercussion to the environment from the airport’s expansion.

According to Daily Mail, the protest was part of a day of action by campaigners who are angered by the government’s plans to expand the airport. The day of action included a peaceful rally attended by Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith, impressionist Alistair McGowan.

15 people were later arrested under on suspicion of public order offences. They chanted ‘No ifs, no buts, no third runway’ and ‘No more runways and held placards reading ‘Heathrow expansion will destroy thousands of homes’ and ‘Protect the planet, no more runways’.

It’s U-Turn: Ex-HM Umar Naseer Dubs Mohamed Nasheed’s Terror Conviction ‘Unlawful’

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In  a bid to attack President Abdulla Yameen, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s loyalist Umar Naseer. in an apparent u-turn. said that conviction of former President Mohamed Nasheed was “unlawful” fueling speculations of coalition between the two to counter the dictatorial regime.

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Former Home Minister Umar taking a strong position on PPM’s fifth anniversary said Nasheed’s arrest of judge “was not an act of terrorism,” Maldives Independent reported.

His u-turn on rival Nasheed followed Maumoon’s decision to withdraw support from Yameen-led government alleging authoritarianism and corruption.

Umar who had previously been at loggerheads with Nasheed on various occasions said, “I do not want Mohamed Nasheed to return to the presidency. But justice is justice. He abducted a judge. He abducted the judge as the commander-in-chief. That is not terrorism. That is unlawful arrest. The sentence for that is between two to three years in jail. We are advocating for justice.”

Debt-Ridden Govt To Pay USD 250 Mn To GMR Over Termination Of Airport Contract

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Maldives government has been ordered to pay USD 250 million to Indian infrastructural company GMR by a 3-member Singaporean Arbitration Tribunal in its final order over illegal termination of contract to run Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA).

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The court ordered government to pay USD 208 million in damages with interest which amounted to approximately USD 250 million, Maldives Attorney General Mohamed Anil was quoted as saying by the Sun Online.

“The compensation covers the debt, equity invested in the project along with a return of 17% and also termination payments and legal costs. The compensation is net of taxes that GMIAL may be required to pay in the Maldives,” the company said, according to an Indian newspaper.

Maldivian government under the then President Mohamed Waheed terminated USD 500 million GMR contract on November 27, 2012 alleging legal and national security implications following which the company moved a plea to the international tribunal for award of damages and  loss of reputation due to abrupt termination of the contract.

GMR had won the contract for 25 years through competitive global bidding process and the agreement was signed on June 28, 2010 under ex-President Mohamed Nasheed’s government.

Problems for GMR began when it decided to levy USD 27 for Airport Development Charge (ADC) and insurance charge, which was struck down by a civil court. The company had called the decision “unlawful and premature” and said the notice was devoid of any locus standi, as quoted by The Hindu.

The contract to expand and maintain the international airport was then given to Chinese company Beijing Urban Construction Group and which was later awarded to in May this year.
Saudi Arabia, known as one of the closest friend’s of the Maldives, also granted the single largest loan of USD 100 million to the to the expansion of INIA in September this year.
Government is already facing highest deficit at 14.4 per cent, highest deficit since 2010, according to World Bank which warned in May that the Maldives is at risk of external debt distress and public debt could rise from 73 per cent of GDP or USD 693.7 million to 120 per cent of GDP by 2020 owing to large infrastructure projects.

Gayoom Vs Yameen: 8 PPM MPs Revolt Against President

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The rift in ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives is now translating into act of rebellion as the MPs apparently belonging to the faction led by former President Maumoon Gayoom said they will put national interest before President Abdulla Yameen’s diktat.

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The development came after court stripped PPM’s President Maumoon Gayoom of all his powers and handed the full control to President Yameen.

In a press conference on Thursday, eight MPs announced that the decision of President Yameen has done irreparable damage and they will bring a number of changes in the Parliamentary work adding that they will no longer abide by the whip line set by Yameen.

The faction criticised lack of transparency, increasing authoritarianism and allegations of corruption by the government and vowed to work with the opposition to restore democracy in the country.

Meanwhile, MDP welcomed the decision of the MPs and said that the party looks forward to working with the MPs to bring about any necessary legislative changes to uphold the Constitution, protect fundamental freedoms, and to restore democracy in the country.

“In light of the immense difficulties that the people of the Maldives are to face, it is encouraging that 8 Government party MPs have pledged their intention to work with the opposition. We ask other Government MPs to do same, to work towards reform. This is now leading to President Yameen losing his majority in the Parliament. With this, President Yameen has lost any remaining legitimacy he may have had,” said former President Mohamed Nasheed.

On Sunday, Chief Judge Abdulla Didi ruled in favour of President Yameen citing extrordinary circumstances due to Maummon’s refusal to convene the party’s governing council and sacking of his deputy, Maldives Independent reported.

The court made President Yameen, who was the advisor of the party, as the head of PPM.

Maumoon’s Gayoom, meanwhile said that he will take the case to Supreme Court.

The rift between Gayoom brothers goes back to June when President Yameen led government introduced the Tourism Bill to which Maumoon strongly opposed. The rift got wider when Maumoon refused to endorse Yameen as the party’s
Presidential candidate for the next election followed by sacking of Faris Gayoom in reaction.

Maumoon who is in loggerheads with his half-brother Yameen has time and again criticised him for his decisions to implement death penalty and leave the commonwealth.

Maumoon daughter and former Foreign Affairs Minister Dunya Maumoon and his loyal and former Home Minsiter Umar Naseer had quit Yameen-led government citing differences.

Maldives: It’s Back To Square One!

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Even as reactions continue to pour in over the weekend on Maldives’ decision to exit the Commonwealth, alleging ‘unfair and unjust treatment’, the leadership of President Abdulla Yameen has moved on with the next political move, this one nearer home. The Yameen faction of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) got a civil court order removing former President and half-brother, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, as party head and replacing the latter’s team with another one of the President’s choice.
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On the opposition’s front, yet another former President, Mohammed ‘Anni’ Nasheed, too shed all semblances of fighting for democracy in the Maldives. From his overseas home in the UK, where he has been granted political asylum after jumping prison-leave for spinal surgery, Nasheed’s legal team has announced their decision to move UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, on a near-single point, for him to be able to contest the presidential polls, now due in 2018.

The Nasheed decision followed the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group’s (CMAG) inability to initiate any ‘action’ of the kind that his camp had envisaged against the Yameen government through its three meetings in the current year. The CMAG’s next meeting is fixed for March 2017 when it had threatened to take Maldives on its agenda to deny the nation participation in Commonwealth Council meetings and the rest.
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Nasheed’s decision to move the UNHRC also came only days before the Yameen government declared that it was quitting the Commonwealth. If earlier the Nasheed camp might have indicated that the Commonwealth was a toothless tiger, if at all, the Yameen decision has indicated that all CMAG initiatives of whatever kind have become infructuous with retrospective effect.

In a way, Nasheed’s team seemed to have foreseen the possibilities before moving the UNHRC, though it’s unclear if they had any specific information that Yameen would act faster on the Commonwealth front than anticipated – that’s ahead of the March session. On other related spheres, too, the government has acted quick and fast, dropping all links to the Commonwealth. Maldivian missions overseas have now become Embassies in the place of High Commissions, a term linked to the membership of the Commonwealth.
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With all this, Yameen seems to have reduced his ‘development’ agenda into a single-point scheme to be able to contest – and win – a second term, the highest under the existing 2008 constitution. Nasheed too has reduced all talks of democracy and ‘inclusive elections’ to include his name alone – or, also – in the ballot for 2018 polls. With their current moves thus, they have shed the fig-leaf of fighting for a cause, whatever it be, and have reduced it all into a fight for personal supremacy, which is what it had been from day one.

It’s anybody’s guess if the UNHRC could move any faster than the Commonwealth on Nasheed’s initiative, and provide for ‘inclusive’ elections of the kind that he and his followers within the larger Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) wants. Old Maldives hands would recall how Nasheed in his own way had ‘hijacked’ the MDP and with that the larger democracy plank when the Gayoom presidency was seemingly unending and autocratic.
Nearer home, thus, it’s equally unclear if there are other presidential aspirants in the MDP, who may want to contest the party primaries ahead of the 2018 polls, or would they unanimously adopt his name, as they did – or, were forced to do – in 2013. If Nasheed were allowed to contest the next presidential polls, whatever the ways and reasons, would his camp revive the earlier posturing that his first term remained incomplete after his resignation/coup in February 2012, is another politico-constitutional question that the party too may need to address, early on.
Even as the government was preparing to announce Maldives’ exit from the Commonwealth, the Yameen-majority PPM parliamentary group initiated motions of political rapprochement between the governmental and organisational wings. Or, so did it seem at the time. They called for brothers Yameen and Gayoom to patch up differences, and asked for time to meet with both.

Photo Courtesy: President's Office


 Yameen gave time, and Gayoom did not – and that was enough for the Yameen camp to move the civil courts and obtain an order, unseating Gayoom from his party presidency. Earlier, the parliamentary group stuck to their sacking Gayoom’s older son, Faraas, from membership and declared his disqualification to represent PPM in the all-party negotiations, purportedly revived by the government, post-CMAG.
Today, the all-party negotiations have lost their relevance in the Commonwealth’s context, but may still remain, even as a lip-service by all, given the government’s continued commitment to stay ‘engaged’ with the international community. Kenyan Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, who resigned to take up the Commonwealth Special Rapporteur assignment for Maldives, may be ‘unemployed’ just now, but that need not be the case with the UN special envoy, Tamrat Samuel.
A lot however would depend on which way the Yameen leadership on the one hand, and the MDP-led political opposition on the other, and the Gayoom camp, on the third could turn, and turn up, on the all-party negotiations. Already, all sections have gone back on their perceived post-CMAG commitments. The government has continued with pre-conditions that convicts could not be named (say, by the MDP) to rep resent them. The MDP too has harped on the same, after enthusiastically accepting the government’s invitation – but leaving it to the leadership to decide the party nominees for the talks.
Dunya Gayoom (3)

Just now, the Gayoom’s camp’s legal and political positions are unclear. Maumoon is expected to challenge his court-ordered removal as PPM head in higher judicial forums. Alongside and alternatively, he can be expected to consider floating a new party – the third since 2008 – and still nominate son Faraas to the political negotiations, if invited. Yameen’s foe-turned-friend-turned-foe of the past five years, former Home Minister Umar Naseer, too is hoping to be nominated for the presidential polls by the Gayoom camp, making it politically difficult for Gayoom to keep it within the family, still.

After distancing itself from Nasheed’s early claims to an emerging/existing alliance against Yameen, the Gayoom camp surprised followers and foes alike by participating in a recent all-opposition news conference against the nation’s Election Commission – and by extension, the incumbent government. They were protesting against the EC delaying/denying funds disbursements for recognised political parties, as laid down under the 2008 constitution, citing what they considered were ‘extraneous reasons’.
The EC however has threatened to de-recognise parties whose leaders were living overseas and were not available to update Commission documents and electoral lists’ as required. Nasheed and his associates in the MDP-led Maldives United Opposition (MUO), apart from the parties that they lead, are candidates for such de-recognition. Would the MDP and other parties in the EC’s list ‘elect’ leaders for an interim period, which could extend indefinitely, if only to be on EC’s records of recognised political parties authorised to contest future elections, is the question they should be asking themselves.
Over the medium-term, however, with Nasheed out of the country and prison without authorisation, and continuing to remain ‘disqualified’ from contesting the elections, any alternative arrangement  is for the MDP to make and in good time. Independent of the ‘terrorism’ trial that was heaped on Nasheed for what r remained an ordinary criminal trial in the ‘Judge Adbulla abduction case’ dating back to the former’s months as president, the inability of the international community to have an ‘inclusive’ election as he has now envisaged, could flag political, rather than diplomatic issues of their own.
Hopes now thus lie more on the effective revival of the political negotiations, under UN care than on any UNHRC initiatives. There again, the government has been maintaining stoic silence on the continued relevance of the UN group on arbitrary detentions naming Nasheed’s as ‘one’, which it had condemned unequivocally when made. None of the stake-holders, including the UN, can ride on multiple tigers, and hope to reach their destination, purportedly common.
It’s back to square one – who winks first, if at all, how and for how long, and who does not. In context, Maldives quitting the Commonwealth, and the latter feeling saddened about what anyway was in the making, and the UK as the Commonwealth’s founder and eternal chair, too feeling upset, have only academic relevance just now.
So are all the protests and criticisms of the Maldivian exit from the Commonwealth, both from within and outside the country….at least until the other stakeholders have a point to make, and make it loud, clear and effectively in ways the Maldivian state apparatus and the Yameen leadership hear, understand, and are compelled to act upon.  The irony is that the solution to the Maldivian imbroglio lies within, and international diplomacy can only take it away not closer to the ‘collective goal’, which is just not there, either.

(N. Sathiya Moorthy is Director, Chennai Chapter of the Observer  Research Foundation.  The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FocusMaldives.)
This article was originally published on South Asia Monitor. It has been republished with permission.

The Maldives’ Story Of ‘Leave. Leaving… Left’ Commonwealth: All You Need To Know

in News/Politics by

September 18

CHRI: The nations is sliding into a dictatorial system once again and the situation will soon push the island nation into the brink of violence and anarchy. Suspend, exclude and halt the current government.

September 23

CMAG: Deeply disappointed in lack of progress in the Maldives and now on a formal agenda and threat of suspension in March.

Ruling ‘Defamation Fame’ MP Jaufar Dawood: Commonwealth is ‘camel fart’. If we haven’t any advantage as a member of the Commonwealth, why shouldn’t we leave them?

September 25

Ruling Riyaz Rasheed: Now is the time for Maldives to leave Commonwealth. People’s Majlis would deliberate over the matter and make its decision when it re-opens.

September 27

Willy Mutunga: The country is facing severe democracy deficit.

October 6

Majlis reopens

October 13

Foreign Ministry: Maldives has decided to leave the Commonwealth.


October the 13- the day when President Abdulla Yameen-led government, taking forward its isolation policy and dictatorial behaviour, slayed 34-year-old tie with the Commonwealth. The government alleged that the group was deliberating “punitive actions” following the situation that led to ouster of former President Mohamed Nasheed in 2012. Foreign Ministry said it was “difficult, but inevitable” step as the 53-nation group has been treating the current government “unjustly and unfairly”.

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The development came weeks after the rhetoric from all the President’s men -who asked the government to flex its muscles – to leave the group after Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) put the Maldives on its formal and gave another six months time to work on the six-point threatening suspension from the group. That time, too, the ruling party MP Riyaz Rasheed indicated to “a group of individuals living in self-exile in UK” who were influencing the group’s decision.

The Foreign Ministry scuffling at the group further said that the Maldives was being used as an object for organisation’s own relevance.

(Maldives)… would be an easy object that can be used, especially in the name of democracy promotion, to increase the organisation’s own relevance and leverage in international politics

The decision to quit the Commonwealth created international furore within minutes with many expressing not just disappointment over it but also suggesting that consequential international isolation will adversely affect its citizens who are already fighting a long battle with human rights abuses, high-level corruption and crackdown on dissent.

One of the first reactions came from President Yameen’s half brother and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom who has been at loggerheads with the former over a number of issues. said he was disappointed on leaving the group as he was the one who “led the country into Commonwealth”.

The 78-year-old President of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) said he was disappointed on leaving the group as he was the one who “led the country into Commonwealth” and that “isolation will not solve problems”.

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Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said members of the Commonwealth will share his sadness worldwide.

I have received news that the Maldives Government has today decided to leave the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth family at large – its member governments and its peoples worldwide – will share my sadness and disappointment at this decision.

British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Maldives James Dauris said that he was saddened by the decision.

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Former President Nasheed took social networking site Facebook to express his anger and said:

Removing the Maldives from the Commonwealth is an act of desperation by a President who doesn’t like the truth and is unwilling to be held accountable for his authoritarianism.

Internationally acclaimed human rights watchdog Amnesty International suggested that instead of lashing out at international criticism, the country should address the situation.

Instead of complaining about unfair treatment, the Maldives government should look at engaging more constructively with the international community.

Former foreign minister Ahmed Shaheed told New York Times that isolation will bring more criticism to the country.

He is getting deeper and deeper into isolation. He would think he’s insulating himself from Commonwealth criticism, but he will receive more and more.

David White, the chief of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative called October the 13th as sad day.

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Other stakeholders- MPs, journalists, politicians and activists – took Twitter to express shock and disappointment.

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The government also received flak worldwide for severing ties with Iran to become a part of the league of Sunni nations to join Saudi Arabia in setting diplomatic agenda against the country.

President Yameen is also facing in-party isolation as most of his former cabinet ministers are either jailed, a part of rainbow coalition Maldivian United Opposition (MUO), have resigned citing differences. And, most importantly from his half-brother, mentor and party chief- Maumoon Gayoom.

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Meanwhile, Boris Johnson – the Brexit rival of Nasheed’s good friend David Cameron- who is currently the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom said:

(The UK will) continue to work with the Maldives Government to help strengthen democracy, particularly freedom of speech and the media and independence of the judiciary.

Govt’s Decision To Leave Commonwealth Creates International Furore, Ex-Prez Gayoom Hits Out Too

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Maldives decision to end the 34-year-old tie with the Commonwealth on Thursday has created international furore with many expressing disappointment over the decision and warning international isolation.

Former President and longest running dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom who “led the country into Commonwealth”  said isolation will not solve problems.

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British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Maldives James Dauris said that he was saddened by the decision.

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Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said:

“I have received news that the Maldives Government has today decided to leave the Commonwealth.

“The Commonwealth family at large – its member governments and its peoples worldwide – will share my sadness and disappointment at this decision.

Former President Nasheed took social networking site Facebook to express his anger and said, “Removing the Maldives from the Commonwealth is an act of desperation by a President who doesn’t like the truth and is unwilling to be held accountable for his authoritarianism.”

Government left Commonwealth alleging punitive action by the 53-nation group following the situation that led to ouster of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

The foreign ministry calling the decision “difficult but inevitable” alleged unfair and unjust treatment by the group over it’s decision to put the country on formal agenda and threatening suspension after the government failed to resolve political crisis.

Here are some other reactions from Twitter:

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Maldives Quits Commonwealth, Alleges Punitive Action After Nasheed’s Ouster

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Government on Thursday quit the Commonwealth alleging punitive action by latter to penalise it over the situation that led to former President Mohamed Nasheed’s ouster in 2012.

Slamming the 53-nation group of unjust and unfair treatment the foreign ministry called it a “diificult but inevitable” decision following threat of suspension from the group over lack of progress in resolving political crisis.

 

 

Maldives Mourns Death Of Dhivehi Music Legend Ahmed Nashid

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The Maldives was in deep sorrow after the death of Dhivehi music legend Ahmed Nashid after a five-year long battle with cancer. He was 53.

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The founder of music band ‘zero degree’ was being diagonised at ADK hospital. He was first diagonised with cancer five years ago after which he moved abroad for treatment. He returned back to the Maldives in 2015.

President Abdulla Yameen sent condolences to Nashid’s family noting that “his passing was a great loss to the music industry.”

President also acknowledged “Nashid’s invaluable services to the Maldivian music industry over the years, were admired by all Maldivian youth, and especially by those in the music industry.”

Former President Mohamed Nasheed also took Twitter to remember the music legend and his contribution to Dhivehi music legend.

Others, too, were soaked in tears for losing Nashid and took twitter to remember the star.

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