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Sri Lanka Declares State Of Emergency As President Flees

Following months of sizable rallies against an economic crisis, Sri Lanka’s president travelled to the Maldives on Wednesday, prompting hundreds of protesters to swarm the prime Minister’s office.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled his official mansion in Colombo moments before tens of thousands of demonstrators overran it over the weekend, but he promised to step down on Wednesday to pave the way for a “peaceful transition of power.”

Rajapaksa is thought to have intended to leave the country before resigning in order to avoid the risk of being arrested because he is immune from arrest in his capacity as president.

According to immigration sources, there were four people on board an Antonov-32 military plane that took off from Sri Lanka’s main international airport: He, his wife, and two bodyguards.

Thousands more protesters surrounded Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s office hours later, demanding both officeholders go despite the lack of a formal resignation statement. Wickremesinghe would immediately take over as president in the event of a resignation.

“Go home Ranil, Go home Gota,” they shouted.

According to the prime Minister’s spokesman Dinouk Colombage, police used tear gas to keep them from overrunning the facility and authorities proclaimed a nationwide state of emergency “to deal with the situation in the country.”

In order to “contain the situation,” a senior police officer stated, authorities in the Western Province, which encompasses Colombo, imposed an indefinite curfew.

In the event that a unity government is formed, Wickremesinghe has expressed his willingness to step down.

Rajapaksa’s office confirmed that he had departed the country on Wednesday, but it claimed to have no plans to make an official announcement of his resignation.

The lowest amount of time required by statute for parliament to choose an MP to complete Rajapaksa’s term, which expires in November 2024, is three days, and the maximum amount is 30 days.

Rajapaksa is accused of mismanaging the economy to the point where the nation lacks foreign currency to pay for even the most basic imports, leaving its 22 million citizens in dire straits.

After the president left his official residence earlier on Wednesday, happy Sri Lankans once more filled the hallways, young couples strolling hand in hand in a spirit of low-key joy.

“People are very happy, because these people robbed our country,” said retired civil servant Kingsley Samarakoon, 74. “They’ve stolen too much money, billions and billions.”

But he held little hope for an immediate improvement in Sri Lanka’s plight. “How are people going to run the country without money?” he asked. “It’s a problem.”

The 73-year-old Rajapaksa, formerly dubbed as “The Terminator,” had been unable to leave the country for more than 24 hours due to an embarrassing standoff with immigration officials in Colombo.

READ MORE: Biden Heads To Israel For High-Stakes Middle East Visit

The workers at Bandaranaike International refused to provide VIP services and demanded that all passengers must go via public counters, preventing him from taking a commercial flight to Dubai.

According to a security official, the presidential party was hesitant to use the established channels out of concern for the public’s reaction. As a result, they missed four planes on Monday that would have allowed them to travel to the United Arab Emirates.

According to a security official, permission for a military flight to land in adjacent India was not immediately obtained, and on Tuesday the party briefly traveled to a navy station in preparation for a possible sea escape.

An airport officer in the capital Male reported that after their arrival in the Maldives, his party was escorted under police escort to an undisclosed location.

Basil Rajapaksa, the younger brother of Rajapaksa and the one who left his position as finance minister in April, missed his own early-morning Tuesday Emirates flight to Dubai due to a violent standoff with airport personnel.

Basil, who a dual-citizen of the US and Sri Lanka, attempted to employ a paid concierge service for business travelers, but immigration and airport staff informed him that they had stopped offering the expedited service.

Sajith Premadasa, the leader of the main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya party and Rajapaksa’s opponent in the 2019 presidential election, has declared he will run for the office.

Premadasa is the son of Ranasinghe Premadasa, a former president who was killed in a suicide bombing by a Tamil insurgent in May 1993.

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Adoga Stephen
Adoga Stephen is a trained journalist, researcher, creative writer and freelancer. He studied Mass Communication at the Lagos State University of Science and Technology (then Laspotech) and acquired requisite skills for the practice of journalism, a profession he has been practicing since 2016.

Following months of sizable rallies against an economic crisis, Sri Lanka’s president travelled to the Maldives on Wednesday, prompting hundreds of protesters to swarm the prime Minister’s office.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled his official mansion in Colombo moments before tens of thousands of demonstrators overran it over the weekend, but he promised to step down on Wednesday to pave the way for a “peaceful transition of power.”

Rajapaksa is thought to have intended to leave the country before resigning in order to avoid the risk of being arrested because he is immune from arrest in his capacity as president.

According to immigration sources, there were four people on board an Antonov-32 military plane that took off from Sri Lanka’s main international airport: He, his wife, and two bodyguards.

Thousands more protesters surrounded Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s office hours later, demanding both officeholders go despite the lack of a formal resignation statement. Wickremesinghe would immediately take over as president in the event of a resignation.

“Go home Ranil, Go home Gota,” they shouted.

According to the prime Minister’s spokesman Dinouk Colombage, police used tear gas to keep them from overrunning the facility and authorities proclaimed a nationwide state of emergency “to deal with the situation in the country.”

In order to “contain the situation,” a senior police officer stated, authorities in the Western Province, which encompasses Colombo, imposed an indefinite curfew.

In the event that a unity government is formed, Wickremesinghe has expressed his willingness to step down.

Rajapaksa’s office confirmed that he had departed the country on Wednesday, but it claimed to have no plans to make an official announcement of his resignation.

The lowest amount of time required by statute for parliament to choose an MP to complete Rajapaksa’s term, which expires in November 2024, is three days, and the maximum amount is 30 days.

Rajapaksa is accused of mismanaging the economy to the point where the nation lacks foreign currency to pay for even the most basic imports, leaving its 22 million citizens in dire straits.

After the president left his official residence earlier on Wednesday, happy Sri Lankans once more filled the hallways, young couples strolling hand in hand in a spirit of low-key joy.

“People are very happy, because these people robbed our country,” said retired civil servant Kingsley Samarakoon, 74. “They’ve stolen too much money, billions and billions.”

But he held little hope for an immediate improvement in Sri Lanka’s plight. “How are people going to run the country without money?” he asked. “It’s a problem.”

The 73-year-old Rajapaksa, formerly dubbed as “The Terminator,” had been unable to leave the country for more than 24 hours due to an embarrassing standoff with immigration officials in Colombo.

READ MORE: Biden Heads To Israel For High-Stakes Middle East Visit

The workers at Bandaranaike International refused to provide VIP services and demanded that all passengers must go via public counters, preventing him from taking a commercial flight to Dubai.

According to a security official, the presidential party was hesitant to use the established channels out of concern for the public’s reaction. As a result, they missed four planes on Monday that would have allowed them to travel to the United Arab Emirates.

According to a security official, permission for a military flight to land in adjacent India was not immediately obtained, and on Tuesday the party briefly traveled to a navy station in preparation for a possible sea escape.

An airport officer in the capital Male reported that after their arrival in the Maldives, his party was escorted under police escort to an undisclosed location.

Basil Rajapaksa, the younger brother of Rajapaksa and the one who left his position as finance minister in April, missed his own early-morning Tuesday Emirates flight to Dubai due to a violent standoff with airport personnel.

Basil, who a dual-citizen of the US and Sri Lanka, attempted to employ a paid concierge service for business travelers, but immigration and airport staff informed him that they had stopped offering the expedited service.

Sajith Premadasa, the leader of the main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya party and Rajapaksa’s opponent in the 2019 presidential election, has declared he will run for the office.

Premadasa is the son of Ranasinghe Premadasa, a former president who was killed in a suicide bombing by a Tamil insurgent in May 1993.

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