Maldives has re-joined the Commonwealth, bringing the total number of nations in the global organisation to 54, it has been announced.
The change came into effect at one-minute past midnight on Saturday February 1.
The republic quit the Commonwealth in 2016 after being threatened with suspension over its human rights record and lack of progress on democratic reform.
President Ibrahim “Ibu” Mohamed Solih, a campaigner for democracy during decades of autocratic rule who was elected in 2018, pledged change and swiftly applied to rejoin.
The island nation has been readmitted after showing evidence of functioning democratic processes and popular support for being part of the family of nations.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Scotland, announcing the decision, said: “I warmly congratulate Maldives on its successful application.
“We are delighted to welcome the country and its people back to the Commonwealth.
“The reform process under way in Maldives aligns with the values and principles of the Commonwealth and we encourage the nation to continue on this path.”
Baroness Scotland consulted the other Commonwealth nations, who all had to agree to Maldives’ readmission for it to go ahead.
In 2016, the Maldives government quit the global body under former president Yameen Abdul Gayoom, saying it had been treated “unjustly and unfairly”.
The country had been threatened with sanctions including suspension if it failed to show progress in key democratic governance issues, including the prompt release of political leaders and misuse of anti-terrorism legislation.
Mr Yameen, who was elected in 2013, was accused of a crackdown on political rivals, courts and the media.
But he was replaced by opposition leader Mr Solih in a shock result in elections in 2018.
Maldives, which last joined the Commonwealth in 1982, will now be part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda, in June.
Read more via The Commonwealth