The President of Sri Lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa has officially handed in his letter of resignation.
Notably, Rajapaksa resigned after fleeing, due to the ongoing protests in his country.
He secretly arrived in Maldives early Wednesday, on an AN32 troop transport plane from the Sri Lanka Air Force, following earlier failed attempts to depart to Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. He was accompanied by his wife and two security personnel.
“Pursuant to the request of the government and in accordance with the powers vested in a President in the Constitution of Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka air force provided a plane early today to fly the President, his wife and two security officials to the Maldives,” Sri Lankan air force confirmed in a statement on Wednesday.
He has now departed Maldives to Singapore as reported by Associated Press citing a Maldivian government official who spoke to the media outlet on the condition of anonymity confirmed that President Rajapaksa boarded a flight of Saudi Arabian Airlines on Thursday, bound for Singapore. Associated Press said that the Sri Lankan president is set to transit at Singapore, before moving on to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan media outlet, Daily Mirror said that President Rajapaksa was escorted by security officers of the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF).
Some media outlets have reported that President Rajapaksa left Maldives in a private jet. The media stressed having learned of the private jet’s landing at Velana International Airport this morning.
While no Maldivian government authority officially commented on Rajapaksa’s arrival Sri Lankans residing in Maldives protested in the capital Male’ City on Wednesday evening following reports of their president’s arrival.
Sri Lanka’s Presidents are granted immunity from arrest while in power, and it is likely why he planned his escape while still holding constitutional immunity.
The president’s departure followed months of demonstrations that culminated Saturday in protesters storming his home and office and the official residence of his prime minister. The protests have all but dismantled his family’s political dynasty, which ruled Sri Lanka for most of the past two decades.
Civilian protestors accuse the president and his relatives of siphoning money from government coffers for years and Rajapaksa’s administration of hastening the country’s collapse by mismanaging the economy. Although the family denies the corruption allegations, Rajapaksa acknowledged some of his policies contributed to the turmoil.
President Rajapaksa named his Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as acting president in his absence, further incensing those who blame the government for the crisis.
As protestors continued to take to the streets of the capital Colombo, and official buildings including the presidential palace and prime minister’s office following Rajapaksa’s departure – Wickremesinghe called a state of emergency across the country, also imposing a curfew across Colombo and the rest of the country's western province.