SRI LANKA – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has left the country, according to a high ranking security official, after mass protest forced him to resign from his chair.
Earlier this week, the embattled Rajapaksa was blocked from departing Sri Lanka at least twice, after refusing to join a public immigration queue at the Bandaranaike International Airport, according to sources.
Rajapaksa and his wife flew to Malé, in the Maldives, on an AN32 troop transport plane from the Sri Lanka Air Force, the official said, as CNN reported.
Local air traffic control refused the plane’s request to land until an intervention by the Speaker of Maldivian Parliament Majlis and former President, Mohamed Nasheed, according to the official. CNN has reached out to Nasheed for comment.
On a first attempt Monday, the Sri Lankan President and members of his family – including Frist Lady Loma Rajapaksa – failed to fly on a Sri Lankan Airlines flight bound to Dubai, as the immigration officers declined to process the passports given to them by presidential aids.
According to the military sources, Rajapaksa and his family were not physically present for cross checks, which was the main reason the flight departed without the president and his family on board.
Another attempt was made to get the family on an Etihad flight scheduled to leave Colombo for Abu Dhabi at 9:20 p.m. local, according to the source, however the same problem occurred, as the Rajapaksas refused to join the public immigration queue for the flight, CNN wrote.
In both instances, the Rajapaksa family in a nearby airport lounge were waiting for confirmation to board without queuing among members of the public.
This came days after Rajapaksa’s planned resignation on Wednesday that would leave him without presidential immunity and potentially exposed to a raft of legal charges in the country.
Sri Lanka has been facing a mass protest for months over the country’s worst financial crisis since independence, as he has been accused of high-level corruption and economic mismanagement.
He agreed to step down from his office on Saturday, after more than 100,000 people massed outside his residence and called for his resignation, as the cable news reported.