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Statement by the Commonwealth Secretary-General on Maldives

2 March 2012

Parliament is the heart of a democracy. The Commonwealth finds it unacceptable that the State Opening of the Majlis of Maldives has been disrupted, and the offices of the President and Speaker have been seriously disrespected.

The leaders of all political parties in Maldives have a solemn responsibility to promote and exercise the utmost restraint.

The Commonwealth encourages all concerned to pursue the swift and dignified State Opening of the Majlis so that pressing national needs can be debated and advanced.

The Majlis is the nationally and internationally recognised place where the representatives of all Maldivians come together to debate responsibly their country's future and to pass the legislation necessary for that future.

While freedom of assembly and freedom of expression are core Commonwealth values, so too is constitutional democracy, including respect for the dignity of office-bearers appointed under the constitution and enabling those office-holders to perform their responsibilities fully and freely.