The Commonwealth readmitted the Maldives, the South Asian country, as its 54th member.
The island nation officially rejoined the Commonwealth on Saturday, February 1.
“This marks the end of a process that began 13 months ago, in December 2018, when President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih wrote to the Commonwealth Secretary-General expressing the country’s interest in rejoining,” Commonwealth said in a statement on February 3.
The Maldives joined the Commonwealth in 1982, and withdrew its membership in 2016, accusing it of interfering in domestic affairs and “unfair and unjust” treatment.
The Commonwealth had warned the Maldives of possible suspension if it failed to show progress on democracy.
The statement further said the decision was based on assessment and consultations in accordance with the rules and procedures agreed by the Commonwealth Heads of Government in Kampala in 2007.
The assessment included two site visits to the country followed by positive feedback given by a Commonwealth Observer Group which was present for the Parliamentary Elections in April 2019.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland welcomed Maldives saying, “I warmly congratulate the Maldives on its successful application. We are delighted to welcome the country and its people back to the Commonwealth”.
“The reform process underway in the Maldives aligns with the values and principles of the Commonwealth and we encourage the nation to continue on this path. Commonwealth members were pleased to note these developments and are happy once again to count the Maldives as a member of the family.”
Maldives President, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, said, “Today is a happy day for Maldivians as we return to the family of Commonwealth nations.
“As a young democracy, the Commonwealth’s foundational values of the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, multilateralism and world peace remain relevant to us more than ever.
“We gratefully acknowledge the support and help of the Commonwealth to the Maldivian democratic movement, and we look forward to the support of fellow member states to ensure the long term entrenchment of these values in our society.”
Members subsequently agreed to invite the Maldives to submit a formal application, which it did on December 25 last year. The country presented evidence of functioning democratic processes as well as popular support for re-joining.
The Secretary-General then consulted with all 53 Commonwealth members and received no objections.
The country will now be part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda on June 22-28.
Its ambassador to the UK now becomes its High Commissioner, signifying Commonwealth membership.
In 2018, the Gambia was accepted back into the Commonwealth of Nations, after the tiny West African state left in 2013 under pressure from other members to improve its democracy and human rights record.