Male: The Maldives on Thursday pulled out of the Commonwealth calling as "unjust" the grouping's decision to penalise the island nation over the circumstances that led to then President Mohamed Nasheed's ouster in 2012 and the lack of subsequent progress in resolving the political unrest.
The Maldives Foreign Ministry termed as "difficult" but "inevitable" the decision to leave the Commonwealth, a grouping of 53 nations that were mostly territories of the former British Empire.
Last month, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), had warned Maldives of suspension from the bloc expressing its "deep disappointment" over the country's lack of progress in resolving the political crisis.
Severely critical of Commonwealth, the Maldives said in the name of promotion of democracy, the grouping used the country to increase the organisation's own relevance and leverage in international politics.
"The Commonwealth has sought to take punitive actions against the Maldives since 2012 after the then President of Maldives (Nasheed) resigned, and transfer of power took place as per the procedures set out in the Constitution," the Maldives Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"The Commonwealth's decision to penalise the Maldives was unjustified especially given that the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI), established with the help of the Commonwealth, found that the transfer of power in the Maldives was consistent with the constitutional provisions," it said.
The Maldives said, since then the CMAG and the Commonwealth Secretariat have treated the Maldives "unjustly and unfairly".
"The Commonwealth has sought to become an active participant in the domestic political discourse in the Maldives, which is contrary to the principles of the Charters of the UN and the Commonwealth.
"The CMAG and the Commonwealth Secretariat seem to be convinced that the Maldives, because of the high and favourable reputation that the country enjoys internationally, and also perhaps because it is a small state that lacks material power, would be an easy object that can be used, especially in the name of democracy promotion, to increase the organisation's own relevance and leverage in international politics," the statement said.
"The Maldives reassures that its international engagement will continue both bilaterally and multilaterally," it said.
Maldives said it had joined the Commonwealth in 1982 with high hopes and expectations, holding that it will be a platform for coordinating critical issues that the member states, in particular, the smallest members of the organisation face.
The CMAG had criticised the inquiry commission set up to investigate the removal of then President Nasheed from power in 2012.
"Since 2012, the Government of Maldives has been giving maximum cooperation to the Commonwealth, shown maximum transparency, and engaged with the Commonwealth at the highest levels," the statement said.
"The Government of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has enacted a total of 110 pieces of legislations. Out of which, 94 legislations were directly related to the core values set out in the Commonwealth Charter.
"An overwhelming majority of these legislations (69 out of 94) were specifically designed to promote human rights, to strengthen democratic governance, and to reinforce the separation of powers. These achievements have resulted in strengthening the rule of law and produced tangible outcomes in strengthening democratic institutions in the country," the statement said.