The Foreign Ministry has commenced the process of recalling politically appointed employees from Maldivian embassies and diplomatic missions worldwide. This move comes at the request of President-elect Dr Mohamed Muizzu’s office, with the aim to have these individuals return to the Maldives before November 18, ahead of the President-elect’s swearing-in ceremony.

Foreign Secretary Ahmed Latheef has initiated the dispatch of letters to 61 employees identified by the President-elect’s office. These letters, as per local media reports, instruct the mentioned individuals to return to the Maldives. The process of repatriation will be managed by the respective missions, adhering to the ‘Rules on Allowances and Privileges for Employees Sent to Diplomatic Missions of Maldives’.

This decision highlights the intersection of the Maldives’ political landscape with its foreign service operations, particularly under the framework of the Maldives Foreign Service Act (Act no: 20/2021). The Act, in force since May 2022, outlines a clear organisational structure and management policy for the Maldives Foreign Service, placing the President as the supreme authority in foreign policy matters.

The current recall of political appointees underscores the dynamic nature of diplomatic staffing, particularly in the context of a political transition. It also raises questions about the practice of political appointments within the Maldives’ diplomatic framework. The government’s prior appointments have faced criticism for being overly numerous and financially burdensome.

This situation presents an opportunity to reflect on the practices and policies governing diplomatic appointments in Maldives, according to experts. The Foreign Service Act, with its emphasis on structured management and professional development, appears to advocate for a more meritocratic and less politically influenced approach to diplomatic staffing.