MP Riyaz Rasheed of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives has slammed Sri Lanka for harbouring “coup plotters,” warning the neighbouring country against interfering in domestic affairs of the Maldives.
Riyaz’s remarks came after the Sri Lankan government told reporters it has no concerns with the activities of former President Mohamed Nasheed, whose arrival in Colombo last week after months of exile in the United Kingdom fuelled speculation of President Abdulla Yameen’s imminent ouster.
Appearing on Sangu TV on Wednesday, Riyaz said Sri Lanka should not be a party to an attempt by “traitors” to destroy the Maldivian economy.
“When UN and other human rights organisations tried to investigate and take action against Sri Lanka over the human rights abuses, it was Maldives that stood in Sri Lanka’s defence,” he said.
Nasheed is in Sri Lanka with other leaders of the Maldives United Opposition, a broad coalition of opposition parties and former senior government officials seeking to oust Yameen over corruption charges.
The criminal court has granted police a warrant to arrest and bring Nasheed back to the Maldives. A police spokesperson refused to say whether they have sought the help of Sri Lankan authorities.
The police meanwhile raided Nasheed’s family residence last night over an investigation into an alleged coup plot.
Sri Lanka’s cabinet spokesman, Rajitha Senaratne, told the Colombo Gazette yesterday Nasheed was “raising democratic issues” cannot be seen as working to overthrow the government.
Senaratne noted that Nasheed has previously worked in Sri Lanka after setting up the Maldivian Democratic Party in exile.
“He thanked the then Sri Lankan government for allowing him to do his propaganda and activities from Sri Lanka against the then-President [Maumoon Abdul] Gayoom. He must be doing the same thing even now,” Senaratne was quoted as saying.
The comments were seen as a rebuke to the Maldivian government’s efforts to arrest leaders of the opposition from Sri Lanka.
A warrant has also been issued for Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, Yameen’s former deputy and the head of the MUO.
After his remarks were widely reported in local media this morning, Riyaz Rasheed has meanwhile insisted that his comments did not constitute a “threat” to Sri Lanka.
He told the pro-government outlet Avas that he was expressing concern with the Sri Lankan government’s stance on the opposition coalition’s activities in the country. Riyaz was not responding to calls at the time of publication.
The PPM parliamentary group’s deputy leader has a history of stirring controversy with incendiary remarks.
In July, he accused the British government of training terrorists to attack the Maldives.
In May last year, he refused to apologise for tweets about prohibiting “islanders” from travelling to protest in Malé.
In March 2012, he argued that the British public funded the Maldivian Democratic Party in return for the establishment of churches in the Maldives.