Maldivians seek answers after authorities grant safe entry to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa

Demonstrators celebrate after entering into the Presidential Secretariat, after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled in Colombo, Sri Lanka July 2022 | Dinuka Liyanawatte / Reuters

Male’, Maldives – Maldivians are asking for answers after the authorities granted safe transit to the Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who arrived on a military aircraft in the early hours of Wednesday.

Maldivians are seeking answers regarding,

  • The legitimacy of Gotabaya’s entry to Maldives
  • Government involvement in the entry of the military aircraft
  • The official status of Gotabaya’s residence in the Maldives

The government remains silent on the matter with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs declining to make a statement to the media. Meanwhile, #GotaGoHome is now also trending in the Maldives with the public affirming their support to the Sri Lankan citizens.

Maldivian public is expressing outrage and seeking answers after CNN reported that the Speaker of the Parliament Mohamed Nasheed ordered safe landing to the aircraft carrying President Gotabaya after Maldivian air-traffic control initially denied landing request at Velana International Airport.

While Speaker Nasheed is receiving harsh criticism on his role in facilitating Gotabaya’s arrival, Maldivians allege that the Speaker alone could not have granted approval for the flight landing. Questions are being raised that the approval for a military craft landing must go through a number of agencies including the Maldives Civil Aviation, Ministry of Defence and even the President’s Office.

Prominent Maldivian diplomat and former Secretary-General of SAARC Dhiyana Saeed is seeking answers from the Attorney General regarding the legitimacy of the sanctuary granted in Maldives legislature since the Sri Lankan Air Force state that Gotabaya’s exit from Sri Lanka was lawful.

Former Foreign Minister Ahmed Shaheed is highlighting the incumbent governments stance on criminalizing criticism of foreign relations and calling out the government for using it to grant safe haven to alleged war criminals.

Former Defence Minister Adam Shareef has also weighed in the matter questioning whether the government has granted Gotabaya safe haven. He also criticized the Foreign Ministry for its silence in this tense diplomatic crisis.