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Is Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa headed for exile in Dubai?

Having taken refuge at a navy facility, Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has now been brought to the Katunayake airbase adjoining the main Bandaranaike International airport

Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had taken refuge at a navy facility but has now been brought to the Katunayake airbase adjoining the main Bandaranaike International airport, according to an AFP report from Colombo.

"He and his entourage were flown back to Colombo in two Bell 412 choppers," AFP cited a top defence official as saying. This has raised speculation that he would be flying abroad into exile.

However, there was no official word from the president's office about his whereabouts, but several local media reports speculated he was set to leave for Dubai.

Colombo was calm on Monday as hundreds of people strolled into the president's secretariat and residence but police made no attempt to intervene. The protesters said that they would remain in the city until both the President and the Prime Minister formally announced their resignations.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's office said Rajapaksa had officially informed him of his intention to resign, without specifying a date.

Sri Lanka's president and the cabinet will make way for a unity government, the prime minister's office said on Monday.

The parliamentary speaker had said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa would resign on Wednesday.

Rs 18 million from Gotabaya palace handed over to court

Earlier in the day, 17.85 million rupees (about $50,000) in hard cash that Rajapaksa left behind at the presidential palace was handed over to a court after being turned in by protesters, police said.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the presidential palace in Colombo under naval protection on Saturday, shortly before tens of thousands of protesters stormed the compound.

Hours later, the parliamentary speaker announced Rajapaksa would resign on Wednesday to allow a "peaceful transition of power".

Ranil Wickremesinghe has himself announced his willingness to step down if consensus is reached on forming a unity government. He is also facing the wrath of the Sri Lanka masses as his home was burnt down in Colombo. 

The main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) party was in talks with smaller political groups on Monday to secure support for their leader Sajith Premadasa who lost the 2019 presidential election.

Premadasa is the son of former president Ranasinghe Premadasa, who was assassinated in a Tamil suicide bombing in 1993.