Sri Lanka President Rajapaksa fled to Maldives Overnight, Protesters Take To Streets

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa took a military plane overnight to the Maldives, which is a close ally.

Mumbai: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country for the Maldives (a close ally of the island) this morning hours before he was supposed to step down amid protests over his handling of a devastating economic crisis. The President along with his wife and two bodyguards at about 2 a.m. local time have left, said Colonel Nalin Herath, a spokesman for Sri Lanka’s defence ministry. On arrival in the Maldives, they were driven to an undisclosed location under police escort.

A government source and a person close to Rajapaksa said he was in Male, the capital of the Maldives. The president would most likely proceed to another Asian country from there, the government source said.

Also Read: India Denied Permission To Sri Lankan Prez Rajapaksa’s Air Force Jet

Defence officials of the island nation informed that Mr Rajapaksa requested them for a plane last night and that they were “obligated” to provide him with one. Mr Rajapaksa continues to be the supreme commander of defence forces as President. Prime Minister Rani Wickremesinghe’s office has also confirmed that the President has left the country. This has brought an end to his regime in Lanka which has dominated politics in the South Asian nation for the last two decades.

Protesters had occupied the presidential residence since Saturday, after months of demonstrations over an economic crisis. Mr Rajapaksa went into hiding after protesters took over his office and residence. As news of the president’s flight spread, thousands of people gathered at the main protest site in Colombo chanting “Gota thief, Gota thief”, referring to him by a nickname.

He had promised to resign on Wednesday and clear the way for a “peaceful transition of power”. Sri Lanka’s political parties have stepped up efforts to form an all-party government and subsequently elect a new President on July 20.

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