Embattled Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has fled from his official residence in Colombo amid mounting protests and is onboard a naval ship, SLNS Gajabahu. A Sri Lankan naval official said the President will stay out in the sea until it’s safe for him to return to the mainland. LIVE UPDATES Here.
Social media footage apparently filmed at #Colombo port shows luggage being loaded to #SriLanka @srilanka_navy ship SLNS GAJABAHU raising fears of a VVIP or a family is leaving the country. A voice in the background can be heard in Sinhala saying ‘Gota is leaving’ #SriLankaCrisis pic.twitter.com/xuFIt29qN2
— LankaFiles (@lankafiles) July 9, 2022
Reports have surfaced that luggage was rushed onto the ship anchored at the Colombo Port, News 1st channel reported on Saturday.
Sources said this was the contingency plan that had to be activated earlier than anticipated. Rajapaksa was using the President’s House as his residence and office since protesters came to occupy the entrance to his office in early April.
“The Harbour Master at the Colombo Port said a group boarded the SLNS Sindurala and SLNS Gajabahu and left the port”, News 1st channel said.
Earlier, visuals from Colombo airport showed a VIP motorcade reaching there where a SriLanka Airlines aircraft was parked.
The island nation, home to around 22 million people, is witnessing its worst economic meltdown in seven decades. The country is running out of foreign exchange, leading to an acute shortage of essentials such as fuel, and medicines, among others.
Thousands of people on Saturday stormed the President’s official residence in protest – the latest in a series of demonstrations against the economic crisis – and demanded Rajapaksa’s resignation.
The protesters stormed inside the presidential residence and entered the rooms, which otherwise used to be heavily guarded. Videos on social media showed protesters cooling off in the swimming pool and entering the kitchen and tasting the food kept for the president and his staff.
At least 30 people, including two policemen, were injured in clashes between security personnel and protesters some of them holding Sri Lankan flags and helmets – who had gathered in large numbers in the Fort area where the presidential palace is located.
(With PTI inputs)