15 March 2012
The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group held a teleconference today, to continue its consideration of the situation in Maldives.
The meeting was chaired by Hon Dr Surujrattan Rambachan, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Communications of Trinidad & Tobago. Other Ministers participating in the teleconference were Senator the Hon Bob Carr, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia; Hon John Baird, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada; Hon Bernard K Membe, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Tanzania; and Hon Ebun Jusu, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone. Other CMAG members were represented by senior officials.
CMAG received an update from the Secretary-General on relevant developments in Maldives since the Groupís extraordinary meeting in London on 22 February 2012.
The Group welcomed the continuing Good Offices of the Commonwealth Secretary-General in Maldives and, in this context, the appointment of Rt Hon Sir Donald McKinnon as the Secretary-Generalís Special Envoy. It attached great importance to the role of the Special Envoy and expressed its full support to him in his assignment.
CMAG noted with regret that the Majlis had not been able to convene as scheduled on 1 March 2012.
CMAG continued to be strongly of the view that the earliest possible expression of the will of the people was required to establish universal faith in the legitimacy of those who govern the country. The Group therefore expressed disappointment and deep concern at the lack of progress achieved so far through the All-Party Talks process to arrive at a political settlement in Maldives that would enable the holding of early elections in the current calendar year, as expected by the Group. It urged all parties to engage in dialogue without delay, in earnest and in good faith with a view to achieving agreement on the date of early elections, and the processes required to do so, including any necessary constitutional amendments and supporting legislation.
The Group also noted that the Commission of National Inquiry in Maldives had commenced its investigation into the events between 14 January and 8 February 2012, but that it had not secured cross-party support. In this context, CMAG acknowledged that international assistance for the investigative mechanism has been requested, and noted that the Commonwealth could be of potential assistance. It reiterated its strong belief in the importance of the work of the Commission and the conviction this should carry in Maldives and internationally.
CMAG continued to be concerned to ensure that former President Nasheed received the freedoms and privileges due to a former head of government.
CMAG urged that all political parties and their leaders should be able to participate fully and freely in future electoral processes.
CMAG once again urged all parties in Maldives to act with maximum restraint and mutual respect in their public statements and actions, with a view to maintaining order and an atmosphere of calm, and to seek an inclusive way forward.
The Group reiterated that the Commonwealth should provide appropriate assistance to Maldives in areas that promote adherence to Commonwealth values and principles, including the Judiciary, the Majlis and the Elections Commission. The Group welcomed the Secretary-Generalís advice that a programme of assistance to the Judiciary would commence shortly.
CMAG decided to retain Maldives on its agenda, noting that it would meet in April when further steps could be considered in light of progress over the next month.
As a Maldivian citizen who also had worked for the Commonwealth, I commend CMAG's decision and whole- heartedly welcome Sir McKinnon as the Special Envoy. Great choice!