Sri Lankan president flees to Maldives in military plane

Demonstration in Colombo to call for the resignation of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa – Scott Bailey/AAP/dpa

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has fled to the Maldives on Wednesday on a military plane, after announcing that he will resign, and at a time when the Asian nation is going through an unprecedented crisis that has led to major protests, as reported by the British BBC.

At 73 years of age, he arrived in the capital of the Maldives, Malé, at around 03.00 hours (local time), according to the aforementioned media.

U.S. authorities on Tuesday rejected the visa application submitted by Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Rajapaksa has departed aboard a military plane, ending a family dynasty that has ruled the country for decades.

His brother, former finance minister Basil Rajapaksa, has also left the country, sources have told the BBC.

Rajapaksa is scheduled to officially step down on Wednesday, which would allow the prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, or another leader to be sworn in by Parliament to take office on an interim basis. The interim president is expected to be elected no later than July 20 and pending elections, which should be held no later than March 2023.

Rajapaksa is thus stepping down after several months of protests over rising prices and shortages of food, medicine and fuel. The popular revolution that finally broke out on Saturday – with images of people breaking into luxurious official residences, including that of the president – has thus forced the definitive fall of the Rajapaksa family, after Gotabaya forced his brother Mahinda to leave office in a superfluous attempt to quell the protests.

Mahinda’s successor, Ranil Wickremesinghe, former rival of Rajapaksa and last option of the president to solve the crisis, has ended up resigning hours before to give way to a concentration government whose main function will be the calling of new elections.

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