The President of Sri Lanka is fleeing to the Maldives

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has fled the nation, hours earlier than his promised resignation amid widespread protests over his dealing with of the nation’s worst financial disaster since independence in 1948.

Rajapaksa, his spouse and two bodyguards flew on a Sri Lankan Air Force aircraft to Male, the capital of the Maldives, the Sri Lankan Air Force confirmed in an announcement on Wednesday.

“Under the provisions of the Constitution and on a request by the government, the Sri Lanka Air Force provided a plane early today to fly the president, his wife and two security officials to the Maldives,” the assertion mentioned.

News companies earlier reported the president’s departure for Male, citing unnamed authorities and immigration officers.

The president had mentioned he would resign on Wednesday to make means for a unity authorities after tens of hundreds of protesters stormed his official residence on Saturday, demanding he step down.

Rajapaksa, who helped finish the nation’s long-running civil conflict as defence secretary throughout his elder brother’s administration greater than a decade in the past, was elected president in 2019 promising safety and stability.

But strikes to minimize taxes depleted authorities revenues and the nation started working out of gas, meals and medicines as a result of it may now not afford to import them.

The president was accused of financial incompetence, and public opinion turned in opposition to each Gotabaya and the broader Rajapaksa household, who’ve dominated Sri Lankan politics for almost 20 years. Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned as prime minister in May after mass protests that started in March turned violent.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, accused of conflict crimes and different human rights abuses, had immunity from arrest whereas in workplace and had not been seen in public since Friday.

It is believed he wished to go overseas earlier than stepping right down to keep away from the opportunity of being detained. The native department of anti-corruption group Transparency International had filed a authorized case to bar Gotabaya and 5 others, together with his brother and former finance minister Basil, from leaving the nation. It is attributable to be heard on July 14.

“It was a matter of time before the net closed in,” mentioned Al Jazeera’s Minelle Fernandez, who’s within the capital Colombo. “Gotabaya Rajapaksa had tried all avenues [to leave] – the ports, the airports – and confronted a thrust back from the individuals with reviews that even immigration officers refused to stamp passports. ”

Sri Lanka’s parliament is attributable to maintain a vote on the election of a brand new president on July 20, however on Tuesday had a laborious time deciding on a candidate for prime minister and who ought to sit in the brand new authorities.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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