Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa flies out of country amid protests, lands in Maldives: Reports

Gotabaya Rajapaksa

Gotabaya Rajapaksa (File image)

Photo : AP

Colombo: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa flew out of the country on Wednesday, said officials as quoted by AFP. As per reports, Rajapaksa left the country in a military plane heading to Maldives.

Immigration officials told the news agency that Rajapaksa, his wife and a bodyguard were among four passengers on board an Antonov-32 aircraft. The aircraft reportedly flew from the main international airport. As per AFP, he landed in Maldives in the early hours of Wednesday.

Earlier reports surfaced that Rajapaksa’s attempt to fly out of the country was thwarted by immigration officials. Notably, the Sri Lankan President wanted to fly out of the country before stepping down from the post on Wednesday, i.e. July 13, to avoid being detained. As the President, Rajapaksa enjoys immunity from arrest.

Also Read: Where is President Gotabaya Rajapaksa? Shipside video goes viral as Sri Lankan protesters force him to flee
On Saturday, the Sri Lankan President fled his official residence after thousands of protesters stormed the building. Rajapaksa reportedly boarded Sri Lanka Navy Ship SLNS Gajabahu anchored at the Colombo Port. Later in the day, Rajapaksa agreed to resign. The embattled Sri Lankan President reportedly wanted to flee to the United Arab Emirates.

Sri Lanka is facing unprecedented economic crisis, since its independence. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the country was pushed further into the economic turmoil. The country was unable to pay for imports of fuel, and other essential items due to an acute shortage of foreign exchange.

Notably, once hailed by many in Sri Lanka as heroes for winning the civil war against the LTTE, the Rajapaksa brothers -Mahinda and Gotabaya – are now being blamed for the country’s worst economic crisis.