The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) met in extraordinary session in London today to consider its response to the situation in Maldives.
2. The meeting was chaired by Hon Dr Surujrattan Rambachan, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Communications of Trinidad and Tobago. Other members of the Group who participated in the meeting were Hon Dr Dipu Moni, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh; Hon John Baird, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada; Senator Hon Arnold J Nicholson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Jamaica (by teleconference); Hon Joseph B Dauda, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation of Sierra Leone, Hon Bernard K Membe, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation of Tanzania, Mr Dennis Richardson, Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia, and H E Roy Mickey Joy, High Commissioner of Vanuatu to the UK.
3. CMAG received a report from the three-member ministerial mission that visited Maldives from 17-19 February 2012, to ascertain the facts surrounding the transfer of power and to promote adherence to Commonwealth values and principles. The mission was led by Foreign Minister Rambachan and also comprised Foreign Minister Moni and Mr Richardson. It met with a wide range of interlocutors during the visit.
4. In keeping with the Commonwealth’s well-established principles of inclusiveness and equity, the Group heard a statement from Dr Hassan Saeed, Adviser to the new President of Maldives, as well as from Dr Farahanaz Faizal, who represented the former President.
5. CMAG thanked the members of the ministerial mission for their valuable work, which had greatly enhanced the Group’s understanding of the circumstances surrounding the transfer of power.
6. Having considered the report of the mission and reviewed all the information made available to it, CMAG agreed that it was not possible, in the allotted time, to determine
conclusively the constitutionality of the resignation of President Nasheed on 7 February 2012. The Group therefore agreed that an independent and impartial investigation of the events of 6-7 February should be completed in a transparent manner within a reasonable timeframe. It noted, in this context, the announcement by President Waheed, on 21 February, of a three-member commission of inquiry for this purpose. It strongly felt that there should be international participation in any investigative mechanism, as may be mutually agreed by political parties in Maldives.
7. CMAG recognised the need for healing in Maldives. It called on all concerned to show restraint and mutual respect in their statements and actions, and to take immediate steps in the national interest to seek an inclusive agreement on the way forward. To this end, the Group urged President Waheed and former President Nasheed to commence an immediate dialogue, without preconditions, to agree on a date for early elections, which should take place within this calendar year.
8. The Group was furthermore of the view that such a dialogue should facilitate the opening of the Majlis session as scheduled on 1 March 2012. This dialogue should lead to collaboration on the passage of the necessary constitutional amendment for the holding of early elections, as well as such legislation that needs to be passed to ensure peaceful, inclusive and credible elections.
9. It also requested the Secretary-General to continue to deploy his good offices in Maldives. It also welcomed his intent to appoint a Special Envoy.
10. CMAG noted the assurance by the new government that former President Nasheed would continue to receive the protection and privileges provided for under the Constitution. In this context, the Group expressed strong concern at the continuing impact of the warrant of arrest against him, and urged that this issue be addressed in order that his ability to participate fully in the electoral process is not prejudiced.
11. The Group further agreed that, in line with the agreed parliamentary agenda and matters emerging from the dialogue, the Commonwealth should enhance its technical assistance to Maldives to help build capacity in such areas as the Judiciary and the Parliament, and that of the Elections Commission, as well as to promote adherence to democratic values and principles. In particular, it urged the Commonwealth to support the Elections Commission as well as to engage with all stakeholders towards ensuring the credibility and peaceful conduct of the next elections. It recommended the expeditious development of a code of conduct for political parties in the lead-up to the elections.
12. Given the questions that remain about the precise circumstances of the change of government, as well as the fragility of the situation in Maldives, CMAG decided that Maldives should be placed on its formal agenda.
13. The Group further agreed that, in situations where a member of CMAG was under scrutiny by the Group itself, its CMAG membership should be placed in abeyance as long as it remained on the formal agenda of CMAG. It decided, accordingly, that Maldives should not participate in CMAG during this time.
14. CMAG decided to convene again via teleconference in March 2012 to review progress in Maldives, and to consider at its next scheduled meeting in April 2012 any further measures that may be warranted.