Former president Mohamed Nasheed is under fire after an audio of a conversation about Addu City seceding from the Maldives to form a new state was leaked to the media.
The home ministry in a statement Tuesday called the secession talk an “uncivilised”, “unlawful” and “treasonous plot” that could create strife and disunity among the public.
“This act is a dangerous attack that came as a part of the constant attacks on the holy religion of Islam and Maldivian freedom, independence and sovereignty,” it contended.
The government will not tolerate any threat to the unity of the Maldivian state, it added.
The statement followed denunciations from ruling party lawmakers, who accused the former president of trying to divide the country in his bid to return to power. The ruling party is engaged in a presidential campaign with religious-nationalist overtones, framing the choice in September’s polls as between secularism and Islam.
In the leaked audio, Nasheed is heard responding to a suggestion to form a new republic by saying that it “cannot be done without weapons.” Tortola in the British Virgin Islands has a smaller population than Addu, he observed.
A third person is heard saying that soldiers stationed in the two southernmost atolls would join a revolt, to which Nasheed said, “Protests will be more effective in Addu.”
The 50-year-old opposition leader, who lives in exile in England and Sri Lanka, has yet to publicly respond to the criticism.
But Hussain Hiyaz, Addu City councillor for the Meedhoo constituency, told VFP that he was part of the group that had the conversation with Nasheed, which happened recently in Colombo.
The meeting was unofficial and no serious discussion took place, Hiyaz stressed, describing it as a coffee-table conversation among friends.
He accused the person who recorded and leaked the audio of attempting to spread discord.
A short-lived independent state called the United Suvadive Republic was declared in 1959 after the three southernmost atolls broke from the central government in Malé. The revolt was suppressed by the forced depopulation of Thinadhoo island in 1963.