Leaders of the archipelago in the Indian Ocean have said they want to leave the group of former British colonies. Earlier, the Commonwealth had threatened Maldives with suspension for its dubious human rights record.
"The decision to leave the Commonwealth was difficult, but inevitable," the foreign ministry in Male said on Thursday.
"Regrettably, the Commonwealth has not recognized the progress and achievements that the Maldives accomplished in cultivating a culture of democracy in the country and in building and strengthening democratic institutions," the statement added. It also said that the country of 340,000 Sunni Muslims had been "unjustly and unfairly" treated.
The announcement came after the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group warned in September that the country could lose its membership if there was no substantial progress in the rule of law and democracy in the country.
Maldives, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean popular with tourists, has been experiencing political unrest ever since Mohamed Nasheed, the nation's first democratically elected leader, was removed from his position in 2012.
Following the coup, Nasheed's successor, Abdulla Yameen's administration arrested most members of the opposition. Yameen's opponents have alleged that the administration is trying to cover up corruption, including money laundering and restraining free speech - a charge the government denies. Yameen's administration also reintroduced the death penalty, despite protests from rights groups and western countries.
Meanwhile, former President Nasheed, in exile in Britain, formed the Maldives United Opposition in June this year with the aim of toppling Yameen.
The Commonwealth is an international group with 53 members, most of which were British colonies.
mg/jm (Reuters, AFP)