Maldives applies to rejoin Commonwealth

• The Maldives has applied to rejoin the Commonwealth, reversing a policy of isolation under autocratic leader Abdulla Yameen who suffered a shock defeat in September.

• His successor, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, wrote to the 53-member bloc on Friday seeking readmission two years after Yameen pulled the atoll nation out of it, the president’s office said Sunday.

• Yameen withdrew the Maldives, an archipelago of 340,000 Sunni Muslims, from the Commonwealth after it mounted pressure on him to protect human rights and ensure the rule of law amid a ferocious crackdown on dissent.

• Solih’s office said the new president’s administration believed in the values of the bloc, which consists mainly of former territories and colonies of the British empire.

A key movement

• The Maldives’ interest in re-joining the Commonwealth stems from a deep conviction that the values and principles enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter are more vital than ever,” the president’s office said in a statement.

• The 54-year-old took office last month after winning a landslide election victory despite Yameen waging a crackdown on his political rivals and jailing most of the opposition.

• The former British protectorate faced persistent international pressure during Yameen’s iron-fisted tenure.

• The strongman accused the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat of interfering in the nation’s affairs.

• During Yameen’s reign, the United States had repeatedly warned democracy was under serious threat in the strategically-located archipelago sitting on key international shipping lanes.

• Since Solih’s election, political prisoners have been freed and opposition figures in exile have returned home.

• Yameen had drifted closer to China and the Maldives saw its foreign debt balloon under his leadership.

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Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

Prelims level: Commonwealth of Nations

Mains level: Impact of regime change in Maldives on India

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