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Wednesday , November 30 2022

Sri Lankan President flees to Maldives on military jet

This post has been read 11925 times!

NEW DELHI, July 13: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country for the Maldives on Wednesday morning accompanied by his wife and two security officers as protests raged against him in the crisis hit island nation. The Daily Mirror of Sri Lanka reported quoting official sources that Rajpaksa landed at the Velena International Airport in the Maldives at 3.07 am on Wednesday amid tight security cover in the Maldives capital.

File photo; Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa

The Mirror reported that Maldives President Ibrahim Solih granted permission for the Rajapaksas to land in the country after Speaker and former President Mohammed Nasheed had requested for the same. It is expected that Rajapaksa will fly to another unknown destination from the Maldives. Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Air Force confirmed that it allowed an Air Force flight to fly from Katunayake International Airport to Maldives carrying President Rajapaksa and the First Lady along with two security men. The permission was granted in accordance with the powers vested in an Executive President in the Constitution of Sri Lanka, at the request of the existing government, subject to the full approval of the Ministry of Defence, it said. President Rajapaksa had fled from the capital on last Saturday before angry protesters stormed his official residence and occupied it.

Rajapaksa had announced willingness to step down as president today (13 July) but fled from the country to avoid arrest as Sri Lankan Constitution grants immunity while in office. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had also announced his readiness to step down after mass protests and an all-party emergency meeting demanded his resignation.

However, neither the president nor the PM handed their resignation letters yet amid reports the president signed the resignation dated for July 13 and handed over to one senior government official. Angry protesters who are stationed in the capital for the last several days had put the PM’s private residence on fire and occupied the President’s House. Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena had announced earlier that the Parliament will be convened on 15th July and the new president will be elected on 20th July. The political impasse in the country is unfolding in a dramatic way as most of the current leaders are opposed by angry protesters to assume presidency and there is no immediate solution to the ongoing economic crisis. Sri Lanka is passing through a tough economic crisis that has impacted the supply of essential foods, fuel and other basic commodities leading to several popular protests in the last few months.

Meanwhile a tense situation prevailed in Sri Lanka as one protester was killed and dozens of others were injured amid popular demand for Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who was appointed as acting President by fleeing President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The Daily Mirror of Sri Lanka reported that several clashes took place between protesters who tried to enter the Parliament demanding the ouster of acting President leading to the killing of one protester and injuring 75 others. The enraged protesters had occupied the President’s House who left for the Maldives early morning today after fleeing the capital Colombo on July 9. The private house of the prime minister was also set on fire after he agreed to the popular demand to step down. Now reports came in that they have crossed first line of barricades and are moving closer to enter the Parliament.

Outgoing President Rajapaksa issued a Gazette Extraordinary appointing PM Wickremesinghe to exercise, perform discharge the powers, duties and functions of the Office of President with effect from July 13. Meanwhile, acting President Wickremesinghe issued orders to the security forces asking to protect the Parliament from protestors. The order was issued as the security force commanders failed to receive orders from political leaders at the all party leaders meeting.

Wickremesinghe aslo issued a Gazette notification imposing a curfew from 12 tonight until 5AM tomorrow. The acting president Wickremesinghe has asked Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to nominate a Prime Minister acceptable to both the government and opposition in order to form an all-party government. The all party meeting held earlier had asked Wickremesinghe to step down as prime minister. Sri Lanka is passing through a tough economic crisis that has impacted the supply of essential foods, fuel and other basic commodities leading to several popular protests in the last few months. (KUNA)

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