Opposition parties in the Maldives accused the government Friday of waging a revenge campaign against their leaders after they narrowly failed to seize control of parliament.

Mohamed Nasheed, the leader of the main opposition party, was slapped with fresh terrorism charges this week just days after he remotely lead an effort to wrestle control of parliament.

The bid failed after President Abdulla Yameen ordered troops to remove the dissenting MPs from the floor of parliament, causing chaotic scenes.

Nasheed, the head of the Maldivian Democratic Party, was sentenced to 13 years prison in 2015 and has been living in self-imposed exile in London since last year.

"President (Abdulla) Yameen has instigated new charges of terrorism against Nasheed," the joint opposition statement said.

The charges stemmed from when Yameen was briefly detained in 2010 allegedly under orders from Nasheed, who was president at the time.

The opposition said several others who support Nasheed's bid to oust the speaker had been intimidated by police in the days since.

"I urge the wider international community to clearly observe the intricacies of the laws of the Maldives before rushing to judgement," the government quoted fisheries minister Mohamed Shainee as saying.

The United States urged Male to "restore faith in democratic processes" after the unruly scenes of soldiers dragging away opposition MPs was circulating widely on social media.

Nasheed, who has pledged to return to the honeymoon islands to contest the 2018 election, said the incident exposed the government's shaky majority.

He became the Maldives' first democratically elected president in 2008, but was narrowly defeated by Yameen in a controversial 2013 election run-off.

Yameen has presided over a major crackdown on political dissent in the nation of 340,000 that has raised fears over its stability and dented its image as a tourism paradise.

Almost all key opposition leaders and several ruling party dissidents have either been jailed or fled into exile since he took office.