New Maldives govt to apply to rejoin Commonwealth

The new Maldives government would apply to rejoin the Commonwealth within seven days, its first 100 day pledges said.

Maldives left the Commonwealth in 2016 citing unfair and unjust treatment weeks after the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) – the enforcement mechanism of the Commonwealth – threatened to suspend Maldives from the council if effective steps were not taken to resolve the ongoing political crisis in the archipelago.

Immediately after taking the oath of office on Saturday, president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had signaled a change in the archipelago's foreign policy.

"We will endeavour to fortify the existing ties the Maldives has had with India and other regional countries. The Maldives will hereupon bolster its shared role to retain enduring peace and harmony of the Indian Ocean," Solih said.

Solih also said the foreign policy of the Maldives will be fundamentally hinged on advancing policies that have a stake in the progress and welfare of our home.

"My government's foreign policy will be formulated on the basis of human rights, democracy and climate diplomacy," he added.

He said Maldives was open and willing to establish diplomatic relations, and strengthen existing ties with all countries that wish to form mutually beneficial development partnerships.

According to the first hundred days pledges of the new government, Solih led by his newly appointed foreign minister - seasoned diplomat and lawmaker Abdulla Shahid would apply to rejoin the Commonwealth within seven days from Saturday.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the more than 300 foreign dignitaries at the ceremony in Male.

The visit is Modi's first to the Maldives after years of tense relations between the two countries because of Solih's predecessor's embrace of China during his tenure.

Beijing reportedly loaned more than USD1.5bn to fund a massive infrastructure boom under the former president.

Modi's presence signals the end of years of frosty relations because of Yameen's embrace of China, a relationship that had deepened India's anxieties about being encircled by countries leaning towards Beijing.

Maldives was the only South Asian neighbour that Modi has not visited since taking office in 2014.

He dropped the Maldives from a 2015 tour of Indian Ocean countries because of the political situation there with massive anti-government protests and heightened tension that led to the arrest and prosecution of former president Mohamed Nasheed.