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Protests break out in Maldives against Sri Lanka’s Rajapaksa who may be heading for Singapore

Protests against Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in Maldives on Wednesday (Image courtesy: Twitter/@munza14)

Protests are breaking out in Male, the capital of Maldives, where President of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa has fled following surging mass protests in Colombo seeking the exit of the old guard.

The Daily Mirror of Sri Lanka is reporting, citing its sources that the fugitive President is heading for Singapore later today from Male.

Unsurprisingly, Rajapaksa is seemingly being met with considerable hostility in the streets of Maldivian capital. Protesters holding posters saying “Go Home Rajapaksas” have congregated, though not in very large numbers. 

Videos are also going viral on Twitter showing the unpopularity of the Rajapaksas in the Maldives 

Inside Colombo, a new cycle of street protests has begun to spiral—evident from what appears to be the takeover of the Prime Minister’s office in Colombo. After the Rajapaksas, former Prime Minister and Acting President Ranil Wickremasinghe is on the firing line of the protesters.

Earlier in the day, anticipating chaos on the streets of Colombo, Sri Lanka's Acting President Ranil Wickremasinghe had declared a state of emergency after Rajapaksa fled Colombo for Maldives in a military plane in the wee hours of Wednesday.

The Sri Lankan Air Force had confirmed Rajapaksa’s exit from Sri Lanka.

Rajapaksa, accompanied by his wife and two bodyguards in the AN-32 transporter, was received by Maldives Speaker Mohamed Nasheed at the Male airport.

Defence officials of the island nation said that Rajapaksa, who continues to be the supreme commander of the country's defence forces, requested them for a plane last night and that they were "obligated" to provide him one.


On arrival in the Maldives, Rajapaksa, his wife and bodyguards were driven to an undisclosed location under police escort, according to officials.

As President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa enjoys immunity from arrest, and he wanted to leave the country before the scheduled date of announcing his resignation on Wednesday. He feared that he would be put under arrest after a massive wave of protesters stormed his official residence in Colombo forcing him to flee to a military base.

The Sri Lanka president and his wife missed four flights that could have taken them to the United Arab Emirates on Monday night as airport officials prevented them from boarding the plane through the VIP route. The couple then spent the night at a military base next to the main Bandaranaike International airport.

His younger brother Basil Rajapaksa, who served as finance minister, is also reported to have fled the country.

lankaAfter news of the Rajapaksa family’s attempts to flee emerged on Tuesday, a motion was filed to the Supreme Court seeking an order to prohibit Basil Rajapaksa, his older brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was forced to resign as prime minister in May, the prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, and several others who served in president Gotabaya’s Rajapaksa’s regime from being allowed to leave the country.

Gotabaya had promised to resign on Wednesday and clear the way for a "peaceful transition of power". Sri Lanka's opposition parties have stepped up efforts to form an all-party government and subsequently elect a new President on July 20.

In Colombo, a tight vigil is being kept on the crowds — apparent from helicopter that flew low to monitor the ebb and flow of people assembled at the Galle Face. 

Security has been beefed up to prevent crowds from taking over symbols of state power including Roopavahini, the state broadcaster.

The security forces in the country’s capital appear to be under severe pressure as crowds forced their way into the Prime Minister's office. Lanka

Following the dramatic exit of Rajapaksa, there is little clarity on a leadership transition in Colombo.

But new names for possible prime ministerial candidate include Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka and SJB MP Patali Champika Ranawaka.

Meanwhile, the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka has refuted reports which claimed that New Delhi helped Rajapaksa and his brother Basil flee the country.

"High Commission categorically denies baseless and speculative media reports that India facilitated the recent reported travel of @gotabayar @Realbrajapaksa  out of Sri Lanka. It is reiterated that India will continue to support the people of Sri Lanka," it tweeted.

Also Read: Sri Lanka President Gotabaya flees in military plane from Colombo to Maldives