Sri Lanka's new foreign minister has asked police to investigate an alleged attempt by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to stage a coup to stay in power when results showed he was losing last week's election. Rajapaksa has denied the allegation.

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said on Wednesday that Rajapaksa and several other key officials discussed plans to use the military to stop vote counting when it became clear that he was losing the election. He said the attorney general and the military and police chiefs opposed the move.

Samaraweera said the alleged plan "constitutes a very serious offense against the state."

Rajapaksa was widely credited for leaving office peacefully after last Thursday's election, but the coup allegation has raised doubts about what really took place.