Maldives to rejoin Commonwealth of former British colonies

The new president has decided the country should return after a two-year absence

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center left, congratulates Maldives' new President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih after his swearing-in ceremony in Male, Maldives, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. Thousands of people cheered Solih, from the Maldivian Democratic Party, at a swearing-in ceremony Saturday in a soccer stadium chosen to accommodate a large number of his supporters. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)
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The new president of the Maldives has decided that the country will rejoin the Commonwealth group of former British colonies after a two-year absence, his office said in a statement on Monday.

The decision was made after the Cabinet of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's recommended the move, the statement said.

Former strongman Yameen Abdul Gayoom pulled the Maldives out of Commonwealth in 2016.

He had accused the group of interfering with the country's internal affairs after it raised concerns over democracy and human rights.

Mr Solih's ministers believe being part of the 53-member Commonwealth will provide young Maldivians with opportunities to get educational scholarships and for the country's athletes to play internationally.

"Moreover, the Cabinet ministers noted the importance of Maldives being a member of the Commonwealth, especially in keeping in line with other members of the international community with regard to upholding and promoting human rights, freedom of expression, and democracy," the statement said.


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Mr Solih defeated Mr Gayoom in September's presidential election.

Maldives was a British protectorate until 1965 but did not inherit a full parliamentary system unlike other former colonies.

It remained largely under single party rule for decades until it became a multiparty democracy in 2008. Mr Gayoom  rolled back many of the democratic gains after he was elected in 2013.