Sri Lanka Declares Emergency After President Flees: Sri Lanka declared a state of emergency today as mass protests erupted in Colombo after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa flew to the Maldives after months of protests against the economic crisis.
Teargas shells were fired as thousands surrounded the office of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and pushed against the gates of Lanka’s parliament.
Sri Lanka Declares Emergency After President Flees
Indefinite curfew has been imposed in the entire western province, including Colombo, to stem the growing protests. His office said the prime minister ordered security forces to arrest the rioters.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa promised to resign on Wednesday over the weekend and clear the way for a “peaceful transition of power” after fleeing his official residence in Colombo, before demonstrators ransacked it.
Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abhaywardene announced that Gotabaya Rajapaksa has appointed Prime Minister Wickremesinghe as acting President while abroad.
As president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa is exempt from arrest, and reportedly wanted to go abroad before leaving office to avoid the prospect of being detained. He, his wife and two bodyguards were the four passengers on board a military plane that took off from Lanka’s main international airport, news agency AFP quoted sources as saying.
Police opened fire in the air and used tear gas and water cannons to stop the crowd at the Prime Minister’s Office. Wickremesinghe has already said that he will step down once an all-party government is formed. Sri Lanka’s political parties have stepped up efforts to form an all-party government and elect a new president on 20 July.
Defense officials for the island nation have told the media that Mr Rajapaksa requested a plane last night and insisted they were “obliged” to provide him with a plane. As President, Mr. Rajapaksa will continue to be the Supreme Commander of the Defense Forces.
On arrival in the Maldives, President Rajapaksa, his wife and bodyguards were taken to an undisclosed location under police protection, an airport official in Male said. Reports have claimed that the President’s younger brother and former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa has also left the country.
The Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka today dismissed reports that claimed India had helped President Rajapaksa and his brother Tulsi escape.
Earlier, both Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Basil Rajapaksa failed to leave the country as immigration officials did not approve their travel and other travelers protested. Anti-government protesters accused Rajapaksa of mismanaging the island’s economy. Sri Lanka Declares Emergency After President Flees.