Maldives has no basis for Commonwealth membership: Gayoom

Ahmed Abdullah Saeed, Haveeru Online
Apr 27, 2012 - 02:24
  • Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom speaking during the ceremony held in the memory of the late former Foreign Minister Fathulla Jameel last night. PHOTO/ IBRAHIM FAID

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom said last night that though the Maldives was a member of the Commonwealth, in reality the country had no basis for its membership.

Speaking during the commemoration of the passing away of former Foreign Minister Fathulla Jameel, highlighting the efforts of Fathulla to gain membership of Commonwealth for the Maldives, Gayoom noted that most of the States included in the Commonwealth had been former British colonies.

However, as the Maldives was never a British colony but had been under the protection of the British, Maldives had no basis to be a member of the Commonwealth.

Gayoom further stressed that unlike neighbors Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan, the British had never ruled in the Maldives.

He highlighted that even when the Maldives was under the protection of the British, there was never a British ruler stationed in the Maldives unlike in countries like India and Sri Lanka.

"We were under the protection of the British. That's a different situation altogether. There wasn't a British ruler in the form of a Governor General or a Governor in the Maldives. The leader of the nation had been a Maldivian even during that time. Hence Maldives really have no basis to become a member of the Commonwealth as the member States of the Commonwealth include nations that had been subject to British rule," Gayoom said.

The former President had made the claims in relation to the Commonwealth, after the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) had warned stronger measures against the Maldives if the composition of the National Enquiry Commission established to probe the circumstances surrounding the transfer of power on February 7 was not revised. 

Following the warning by CMAG, some pro-government legislators of the Maldives Parliament had even called for the country to withdraw its membership from the Commonwealth.

Gayoom revealed that though the member States of the Commonwealth included nations that had been formerly under British rule, he had requested membership for the Maldives in 1982 as the organization was renowned for its assistance for smaller nations.

He highlighted that even at present the majority of the members of the Commonwealth were small nations and claimed that 27 out of the total of 54 member states were small nations.

Gayoom further noted that though the advocating for the rights of smaller nations was facilitated in the Commonwealth, "the Commonwealth was different to what it had been previously."

"Commonwealth had encouraged and offered assistance to nations that had gained independence at the time. However, the times are very much different now. The policies of the Commonwealth are very much different these days. When we had joined the Commonwealth it had given precedence to smaller nations," he detailed.

He also highlighted that the Commonwealth had been an organization that had facilitated and assisted smaller nations in gaining independence and sovereignty.

"However, the actions of the Commonwealth have changed since then, to a point where we now have to have a rethink about the whole situation. That's how much the world has changed now. At present the smaller nations have been subject to the influence of larger and established nations. Such influence have now even spread into these organizations as well. So the present Commonwealth is not the same organization it was before," said Gayoom criticizing the changes that have to come to pass in the Commonwealth.

Gayoom also accused that the Commonwealth that had been originally advocating for the rights of smaller nations, had now become very much influenced by larger and more powerful nations.

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