Gotabaya Rajapaksa: Sri Lankan President has left the country
Rajapaksa and his wife flew to Male, Maldives on a Sri Lanka Air Force AN32 troop carrier, the official said.
Local air traffic control denied the plane’s request to land until an intervention by Maldivian parliament speaker Majlis and former president Mohamed Nasheed, according to the official. CNN has reached out to Nasheed for comment.
Rajapaksa’s aides arrived at Colombo airport on Monday with 15 passports belonging to the president and his family members – including First Lady Ioma Rajapaksa – who had reserved seats on a Sri Lankan Airlines flight leaving for Dubai at 6:25 p.m. . local time, according to the military source.
But immigration officials refused to process passports given to them by presidential aides because Rajapaksa and his family were not physically present for cross-checks. Eventually, the flight departed without the president and his family on board, the source added.
Another attempt was made to board the family on an Etihad flight which was due to leave Colombo for Abu Dhabi at 9:20 p.m. local time, the source said, but the same problem occurred as the Rajapaksas refused to join the queue. public immigration hold for theft. .
In both cases, the Rajapaksa family were in a nearby airport lounge, awaiting confirmation that they could board without queuing among members of the public, the source said.
On Tuesday, a video released by a former police officer claimed Rajapaksa was staying at a private house owned by a senior air force commander. The Sri Lankan Air Force has denied the claim, describing it as propaganda intended to tarnish the image of the corps and its leader.
Forced to resign
Rajapaksa’s planned resignation on Wednesday – which follows months of protests over the country’s crippling economic crisis – would leave him without presidential immunity and potentially exposed to a series of legal charges in the country.
Striking footage shared on social media showed protesters singing protest songs and chanting slogans calling for Rajapaksa’s resignation. Other photos showed groups of protesters setting up barbecue grills to grill and cook food.
Reporting provided by journalist Rukshana Rizwie.