The Maldives says it will seek the assistance of relevant authorities in Sri Lanka to return former President Mohamed Nasheed using diplomatic channels, if required.
Mohamed Hussain Shareef, Maldives’ Ambassador-designate to Sri Lanka said that Nasheed is a fugitive and left the Maldives midway through a jail sentence after being allowed to seek medical treatment overseas.
“It is ironic that Nasheed and his legal team are accusing others of attempted kidnapping when he himself is a fugitive from the law for the well-publicised kidnapping of a Chief Judge,” Mohamed Hussain Shareef said.
International legal counsel representing former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed earlier raised concerns about a threat made by the Maldivian ambassador-designate to Colombo to detain their client in Sri Lanka and forcibly return him to the Maldives.
Legal counsel Amal Clooney said any attempt by a Maldivian diplomat to detain President Nasheed in Sri Lanka would constitute a violation of international law as well as Sri Lankan criminal law.
She had said President Nasheed should not be returned to the Maldives to serve a sentence that resulted from a sham trial, and it is incumbent on the Sri Lankan authorities to ensure that his rights are respected while he is in their country.
“Should a relevant authority in the Maldives request the Embassy to seek the assistance of relevant authorities in Sri Lanka to return him or any other fugitive in accordance with our Constitution and laws, all avenues available through diplomatic channels will be utilised to fulfill the obligation,” Mohamed Hussain Shareef said.
He also said that Nasheed and his supporters have continuously attempted to create diplomatic friction between Sri Lanka and the Maldives, including assertions of bias by the Sri Lankan Government.
“Our ties with Sri Lanka are multi-layered and based on an age-old practice of non-interference in each other’s domestic politics. The close ties between our two Governments and responsibility of officials on both sides have been instrumental in avoiding misunderstanding in spite of erroneous claims by Nasheed and senior officials in his 2008 2013 regime. Among their most recent attempts is the ongoing social media campaign to create friction between the two Governments on the procedural issue of agreement to my appointment as Ambassador. I thank the Sri Lankan authorities for the speed with which our request was processed favourably, and look forward working closely with Sri Lankan authorities in promoting bilateral ties,” Mohamed Hussain Shareef said.
He said that as the very first foreign official to personally visit and congratulate President Maithripala Sirisena following the 2015 electoral victory and having lived and studied in Sri Lanka for many years, it is a rare privilege for him to have the opportunity to serve in Sri Lanka.
“With a massive boost in Sri Lankan investment in the Maldives in recent years, the Government of President Yameen is keen on working closely with the Sri Lankan Government in promoting ties at various levels. We also continue to abide by our long-held tradition of non-interference in domestic politics of neighbouring countries, a principle cherished by successive Sri Lankan Governments as well,” Mohamed Hussain Shareef added. (Colombo Gazette)