Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa flees to Maldives as protests escalate

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday flew out of the country and landed in the Maldives. Gotabaya Rajapaksa had earlier hinted he would not resign till his family got a safe exit from the country.

His brother, former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, also reportedly tried to flee the country to Dubai on Monday but was stopped at the airport. The 71-year-old Basil is being widely held responsible for the country’s worst economic crisis which has heaped misery on the people.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa took a late-night military jet and landed at the airport in Maldives’s capital, Male. The President fled his country with five of his family members and three staffers.

He had earlier conveyed a message to the Speaker of Parliament and the Prime Minister to submit his resignation on Wednesday. As per protocol, he needs to send the resignation to the chief justice of Sri Lanka and then send a copy to the PM and the Speaker of Parliament.

On July 9, Ranil Wickremesinghe announced his resignation from the post of Sri Lanka Prime Minister as the economic crisis in the island nation escalated. Nearly the entire Cabinet had resigned along with him, with 26 ministers quitting the government.

The President has not been seen in public since Friday. Parliament will elect his replacement on July 20.

The Rajapaksa family, including former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, has dominated the politics of the country of 22 million for years and most Sri Lankans blame them for their current problems.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled his official residence in Colombo on July 9, moments before thousands of protesters broke through police barricades and stormed the compound.