Meeting in Colombo today, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) considered the situation in Maldives.
Ministers expressed their deep disappointment that the Maldives presidential election process had not concluded prior to the expiration of the President’s term in office on 11 November 2013.
The Group noted that the breach of the 11 November constitutional deadline to inaugurate a new president followed repeated delays to the electoral process, as a result of annulment by the Supreme Court of the first-round election on 7 September and the failure to proceed with three further elections on 28 September, 19 October and 10 November.
Despite this serious setback to the democratic process, CMAG was pleased to note that domestic and international observers, including the Commonwealth Observer Group, had found the first-round presidential election held on 9 November to be credible. The Group acknowledged positively the continuing efforts of Commonwealth Observers in Maldives, led by Dr Lawrence Gonzi, and commended the voters of Maldives for the resilience and peacefulness that they have demonstrated over the past weeks.
Ministers also expressed warm appreciation for the dedicated engagement of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Sir Donald McKinnon.
Ministers emphasised the urgency of ensuring a swift conclusion to the electoral process. In this regard, CMAG stressed the importance of the second-round election taking place as scheduled on 16 November, in a credible and peaceful manner, and of the newly elected president being inaugurated promptly thereafter.
CMAG urged presidential candidates, the security services and other state institutions to give their full co-operation to the Elections Commission so that it is free to carry out its constitutionally-mandated role and the people of Maldives are able to exercise their fundamental right to elect their president.
In view of these recent developments, CMAG decided to place Maldives once again on its formal agenda, pending the holding of a credible election on 16 November and the inauguration of a new president. Ministers will continue to monitor the situation in Maldives closely over the coming days. The Chair of CMAG will brief Commonwealth Heads of Government on 15 November 2013, when they meet in Colombo.