Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa left the country by fleeing on a military jet amid countrywide mass protests over the months of economic crisis. According to Sri Lanka Air Force, the president flew to the Maldives with his wife and two security officials. BBC Sinhala stated that the flight carrying Rajapaksa and others landed in the Maldives capital, Male, at around 03:00 pm local time.
Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa has fled the country following the major protest against him. The country’s Air Force has confirmed it. Current Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will be acting as president in his place.#SriLankanPresident #SriLankaCrisis #SriLankaNews pic.twitter.com/mszqcrDxj0
— Live News Now (@LiveNewsNow6) July 13, 2022
His flight brings an end to the rule of the powerful Rajapaksa clan that dominated politics in the country for around the last two decades. An official source told CNN that local air traffic control refused the request of the pilot to land until an involvement by former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed and the Speaker of Parliament Majlis.
According to the Sri Lankan military source, aides for the president arrived at the Colombo airport on Monday with fifteen passports belonging to Rajapaksa and his family members, including First Lady Ioma Rajapaksa, who had confirmed tickets for a Sri Lankan Airlines flight departing for Dubai at 06:25 pm local time. On the other hand, immigration officers refused to process those passports, as the president and his family were not physically present for cross-checks.
Rajapaksa Resignation Follows Months of Protests
Wednesday’s resignation of President Rajapaksa follows months of mass protests over the crippling economic crisis of the country. Moreover, his resignation left him without presidential immunity and likely exposed to a number of legal charges in the country. He is facing charges of economic mismanagement and high-level corruption, which finally bankrupted the country and prompted its worst financial crisis since independence.
Rajapaksa agreed to resign from his position on Saturday after over one hundred nationals massed outside his residence and demanded the president step down. Afterward, some protestors broke into the presidential palace and splashed around in the swimming pool. The departure of the president threatens a likely power vacuum in Sri Lanka.
On Monday, the Sri Lankan leading opposition leader Sajith Premadasa told BBC News that he would be leaning for the presidency. But he lacks support from the public, and there is profound public mistrust of countrywide politicians in general. Amid the political and economic chaos in the country, the sovereign board prices soared to record lows on Wednesday.
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