Maldives government on Wednesday cancelled the passports of several top opposition figures including self exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed and former vice president Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.
Nasheed has been granted asylum in the UK after he was allowed to leave for medical treatment in an internationally brokered deal in January.
Nasheed had been sentenced last March on a terrorism charge over the arrest and subsequent detention of a sitting Judge during his presidency, in a trial widely criticized for lack of due process.
Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed who had also been granted political refugee status by Britain fled to the UK last July days before he was impeached in a controversial vote which was alleged to have been orchestrated by his eventual successor Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor who himself was impeached following a blast aboard the presidential speedboat.
A Maldives court last week issued a formal warrant for the arrest of Nasheed.
According to the police, the arrest warrant was issued in conjunction with investigations, pursuant to a 2011 Audit Report.
Nasheed and six senior officials of his administration have been ordered to repay government funds they had allegedly misused or face lawsuits.
The Maldives Correctional Service is also seeking to have Nasheed brought back to serve a remainder of his 13 year sentence from which he was initially granted extraordinary medical leave.
In addition to Nasheed, an arrest warrant has also been issued against former vice president and leader of the new opposition coalition Dr Jameel.
The arrest warrant was issued against Dr Jameel over the forged warrant to arrest the president.
In a statement, the immigration department insisted that fugitives and suspects at large cannot remain abroad on Maldivian passports.
Immigration said foreign authorities have been informed of the cancellations.
The immigration’s move came after Nasheed last week travelled to neighbouring Sri Lanka in what has reportedly been to attend a series of sit-downs over an imminent move to oust incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom from office.
Jameel however, had not travelled to Sri Lanka for reasons yet unknown.
The newly formed opposition alliance had said it will seek to oust incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and form an interim government to ensure free and fair elections scheduled in 2018.
The MUO brings together the Maldivian Democratic Party, the Adhaalath Party, two of Yameen’s former deputies and his former defence minister.
Government has intensified its crackdown on top opposition figures after BBC quoted sources saying the opposition plans to move against the president “within weeks.”
According to the BBC report, details of what is being planned remain obscure but the government has described it as a “formal attempt at ‘legally’ overthrowing the government”.