Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa escaped the country on a military aircraft for the Maldives on Wednesday amid a worsening economic and political crisis.
Rajapaksa announced on Saturday that he would formally resign on July 13 after protesters stormed his official residence.
“On government request and under terms of powers available to the president under the constitution, with full approval from the ministry of defense. The president, his wife, and two security officials were provided a Sri Lanka air force plane to depart from Katunayake International airport for the Maldives in the early hours of July 13,” the Sri Lanka Air Force said.
Rajapaksa is not expected to remain in the Maldives and information provided to the BBC suggests he intends to continue to a third country.
Immigration officials from boarding commercial flights stopped Rajapaksa and his younger brother, Basil Rajapaksa, a former finance minister while departing, but Rajapaksa’s brother stayed in Sri Lanka.
“I can confirm to you that he departed last night. All immigration formalities were fulfilled. We have no power to stop the president from leaving, as media have claimed,” an anonymous senior immigrant official told the media.
Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Sri Lanka’s parliamentary Speaker, said Rajapaksa had appointed Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, as acting president.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s brother, and former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, has also fled Sri Lanka and is believed to be heading to the United States.
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