The Commonwealth called Wednesday for early presidential elections in the Maldives, along with an international investigation into the ouster of the Indian Ocean archipelago's president earlier this month.
The Commonwealth's statement was a boost for ousted President Mohamed Nasheed, who has also demanded early elections and an international investigation.
The country's new president, Mohammed Waheed Hassan, appointed a three-member commission Wednesday to investigate his rise to power and street violence that followed, said Hussain Shihab, Maldives envoy to Sri Lanka.
But Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party criticized the commission as biased and demanded that international experts be included.
The party said in a statement that Hassan's commission includes members of the government of former autocratic leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, whose 30-year rule ended with Nasheed's victory in the country's first multiparty elections in 2008. Nasheed was repeatedly jailed by Gayoom for his pro-democracy activism.
"The MDP has repeatedly made clear that due to the highly politicized nature of Maldives society at present, in order to be credible the investigation mechanism must include international experts as well as Maldivians of proven and unquestionable independence and integrity," the party said.
The Commonwealth, a group of 53 nations _ mainly former British colonies _ took a similar stance.
Commonwealth officials who visited the Maldives "strongly felt that there should be international participation in any investigative mechanism, as may be mutually agreed by political parties in Maldives," the statement said.
The Commonwealth also urged Hassan and Nasheed to start an immediate dialogue "without preconditions, to agree on a date for early elections, which should take place within this calendar year."
Nasheed resigned on Feb. 7 after weeks of public protests and loss of support from the military and police. He was replaced by his deputy, Hassan.
Nasheed later said he was ousted in a coup at gunpoint and his angry supporters held street demonstrations that police ended in a violent crackdown. Nasheed's supporters also burned down police stations, courts and government vehicles.
The United Nations and countries including the United States called for an inquiry into Hassan's rise to power but they have recognized the new government.
Nasheed has rejected Waheed's invitation to join a unity government and has insisted on having presidential election earlier than October 2013, as currently scheduled.
Maldives, known for its luxurious beach resorts for upmarket tourists, has 300,000 people.