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Gotabaya Rajapaksa On His Way to Singapore From Maldives? May Fly Out Tonight | Exclusive

By: Manoj Gupta

News18.com

Last Updated: July 13, 2022, 15:27 IST

New Delhi

Gotabaya Rajapaksa was received by a Maldivian government representative at the Velana airport and taken to an undisclosed location under police escort, sources said, quoting Maldivian officials.  (Twitter File)

Gotabaya Rajapaksa was received by a Maldivian government representative at the Velana airport and taken to an undisclosed location under police escort, sources said, quoting Maldivian officials. (Twitter File)

Most Maldivian political parties are angry with President Solih and Maldivian Majlis (Parliament) Speaker and former president Mohamed Nasheed for facilitating his escape from Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled to the Maldives on Wednesday, may now be headed to Singapore with his family, sources told CNN-News18 exclusively.

Rajapaksa, 73, left the country along with his wife and two security officers on a military jet, a brief statement from the Sri Lanka Air Force said. “On government request and in terms of powers available to a President under the Constitution, with complete approval from the ministry of defence, the President, his wife and two security officials were provided a Sri Lanka Air Force plane to depart from the Katunayake international airport for the Maldives in the early hours of July 13,” the statement said.

His exit came hours before he was supposed to step down in the face of a public revolt against him and his family for mishandling the economy that has bankrupted the country.

Sources said that Rajapaksa has been speaking to Singapore authorities and they, too, have given the go-ahead.

The media in the Maldives reported that Rajapaksa can’t stay there for too long.

Most Maldivian political parties are angry with President Solih and Maldivian Majlis (Parliament) Speaker and former president Mohamed Nasheed for facilitating his escape from Sri Lanka.

MALDIVES NOT THE FINAL DESTINATION

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Office also confirmed that the President had left Sri Lanka. Rajapaksa, who enjoys immunity from prosecution while he is the president, fled the country before resigning to avoid the possibility of arrest by the new government.

On Saturday, Rajapaksa had announced his decision to step down on Wednesday after thousands of protesters stormed his official residence, blaming him for the unprecedented economic crisis that has brought the country to its knees. He arrived in the capital of the Maldives, Male, at around 03:00 local time (22:00 GMT), BBC reported.

He was received by a Maldivian government representative at the Velana airport and taken to an undisclosed location under police escort, sources said, quoting Maldivian officials.

The Maldivian government’s argument is that Rajapaksa is still the President of Sri Lanka, and that he hasn’t resigned or handed over his powers to a successor. Therefore, if he wanted to travel to the Maldives, it could not have been denied, sources said.

ALSO READ | How President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Lust for Power Left Sri Lanka Burning | Timeline

Thirteen people accompanied Rajapaksa to the Maldives. They arrived in an AN32 aircraft, according to TV news channels.

Reports say that initial requests to land a military aircraft in the Maldives were refused by the Civil Aviation Authority in Maldives, but later landing was authorised on the request of Nasheed.

He is likely to send his resignation letter only after reaching his final destination on Wednesday evening, Sri Lanka’s The Morning news portal reported, citing highly placed government sources.

It is learnt that the Rajapaksa’s resignation letter would be sent to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena around 8 pm Sri Lanka time, it added.

ALSO READ | From Mention in Mahavamsa to Era of Rajapaksa: A Look at Ties as Maldives ‘Returns Favour’ by Hosting Gotabaya

Meanwhile, the High Commission of India in Sri Lanka categorically denied “baseless and speculative” media reports that it facilitated the escape of Rajapaksa to the Maldives.

Citing sources, BBC also reported that Rajapaksa’s younger brother and former finance minister Basil Rajapaksa has also left the country.

With PTI Inputs

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first published:July 13, 2022, 15:20 IST
last updated:July 13, 2022, 15:27 IST