Gotabaya Flees SL, Experts Say It’s Expected

| Updated: 13 July, 2022 3:46 pm IST

CHENNAI: Amid country-wide unrest and sheer public pressure for his resignation, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled to the Maldives on Wednesday morning, a move experts said is on the expected lines.

Speaking to The New Indian on Rajapaksa’s exit, Col. Hariharan, a noted Chennai-based Sri Lankan expert said, “It was expected. Yesterday, he also attempted to get out of the country. But airport officials’ rejection to facilitate his travel shows sheer disgust of the public. Agitators saying the Rajapaksas are the reasons behind the suffering.”

“Ranil Wickremesinghe still has the chance of becoming the President. JVP is not strong, they don’t have no. JVP has been taking an active part in this agitation. The Clergy in Sri Lanka has said if the citizens fail to find a suitable candidate, they (Buddhist clergy) will find them,” the former military intelligence officer said.

Authorities in Sri Lanka and the Maldives have confirmed that Gotabaya Rajapaksa, his wife and two security officers arrived at the Velena International Airport in the Maldives early morning on Thursday.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa was supposed to submit his resignation on Wednesday. He also signed the letter and kept it ready for submission. He attempted to flee the country a day ago, which was denied by the airport officials. His younger brother Basil Rajapaksa, who served as the finance minister, was earlier stopped from boarding a Dubai-bound flight by the agitators in Colombo.

It is speculated that former president Mohammed Nasheed had requested President Ibrahim Solih of Maldives to arrange safe refuge for the Sri Lankan president. Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his family may leave the Maldives soon for a third country for security reasons.

Mohammed Nasheed in a tweet condemned the agitations against Sri Lankan Prime Minister. “Strongly condemn the burning of Prime Minister’s family home yesterday. The PM, who’s only been on the job a few weeks, is trying to steer SL out of its current mess. Burning his house down is hardly going to help,” Mohammed Nasheed wrote in a tweet two days ago.

Indian High Commission to Colombo has denied any kind of assistance in the departure of Rajapaskas.

“High Commission categorically denies baseless and speculative media reports that India facilitated the recently reported travel of @gotabayar @Realbrajapaksa out of Sri Lanka. It is reiterated that India will continue to support the people of Sri Lanka. progress through democratic means and values, established democratic institutions and constitutional framework,” in a tweet Indian High Commission to Colombo issued a statement.

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