Toppled Maldives strongman welcome in Sri Lanka

The defeated strongman of the Maldives, Abdulla Yameen, is welcome in neighbouring Sri Lanka, Colombo said on Tuesday, two days after his surprise defeat in presidential elections.

Sri Lanka has long been a haven for dissidents from the nearby Maldives over years of political upheaval, including for hundreds of opponents of Yameen since he became president in 2013.

In a phone call on Monday, Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe “informed Yameen that he is welcome in Colombo at any time,” the premier’s office said. Wickremesinghe made the call after hosting Yameen’s arch rival and former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed at a luncheon meeting on Monday.

Nasheed, the atoll nation’s first democratically elected leader, was sentenced to 13 years in jail after narrowly losing the 2013 elections to Yameen.

He fled to London where he sought refuge and now lives in Sri Lanka.

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