Serious concerns have been raised about democracy in the Maldives, after the nation's government has decided to leave the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group gave the Indian Ocean archipelago country six months to address concerns it had about political corruption, including arresting opposition leaders and undermining democratic institutions.
The country’s government, which has been denying rumours of an impending coup and allegations of money laundering, said the decision on Thursday to cancel its membership was “difficult but inevitable”.
In September, a local newspaper office and a human rights NGO in the capital Male was raided by authorities after an Al Jazeera documentary broadcast corruption allegations against the Maldives president Abdulla Yameen.
"It is sad to see that the Government of Maldives has reacted with a show of force rather than take steps to rectify these very serious issues with the rule of law and transparency," Commonwealth Youth New Zealand Executive Director, Aaron Hape says.
"This is a capitulation of its duty to uphold and champion good governance.
"I echo the Commonwealth Secrety-General's desire to see the Maldives rejoin the Commonwealth family very soon and hope this is only a temporary decision", Mr Hape says.