Despite high security around the Velena International Airport in Male, the president never boarded the flight and has not arrived in Singapore as scheduled.
Rajapaksa is on the run after thousands of protesters stormed into his official house and demanded his resignation. Debt ridden Sri Lanka, is on the brink of starvation with no food, medicine and power. Fuel will run out next week in the crippled tourism-reliant island nation which is already at a standstill. Sri Lankans blame the president’s mismanagement and ill-fated policy decisions for the country’s continuing crisis and demand for accountability.
On Wednesday early morning, the same day he was expected to resign, Rajapaksa skipped the country and flew to Maldives with his wife in a military aircraft. His escape followed two botched attempts the previous day to leave with 15 members of his family to the UAE, when airport officials withdrew their services from the VIP lounge where the family was hiding from the public, and wanted the president to join in the immigration queue. Angry travellers demanded airport authorities not to check president Rajapaksa into the flight.
The president landed in the Maldives, despite Maldivian air traffic controllers initially refusing landing permission to the unauthorized flight. Maldivian media reported that the Speaker, also the former president, Mohamed Nasheed, an ally of the Rajapaksa family, intervened and granted permission for the embattled president to enter the country.
Maldivian president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, was out of the country at the time.
The Maldivian government has come under criticism for harbouring a run-away president with a war crimes and human rights record. It said that as Rajapaksa remains the president of Sri Lanka, they cannot deny him entry.
One tweet originating from the Maldives when president Solih landed at the airport in Male today said, 'Journalists question Maldives president ibuhsolih VelenaAirport that if he accepted 5 million USD bribe from #Gotabaya to give him safe passage.'
The Rajapaksas stayed in one of the most expensive luxury resorts, while Sri Lankans carried out a peaceful protest in capital Male. One man was arrested by the police, drawing severe criticism. “The sham still continues,” said one Sri Lankan protester who refused to be identified. “While our families are suffering back home, with no power, no fuel, no medicine for our parents and no future for our children, they are still using the taxpayers' money to live in luxury even when they are escaping. This corrupt family has ruined our nation. They should be behind bars.”
High up sources in Colombo told Khaleej Times that the president will keep travelling until he reaches a destination where he will be granted Head of State immunity before handing in his resignation. He was planning to land in Singapore yesterday and then go to a Gulf country.
The Maldivian government has come under criticism for harbouring a run-away president with a war crimes and human rights record.
One tweet originating from the Maldives when president Solih landed at the airport in Male today said: Journalists question Maldives president ibuhsolih VelenaAirport that if he accepted 5 million USD bribe from #Gotabaya to give him safe passage.
Rajapaksa, who enjoys immunity from prosecution while he is president, fled the country before resigning to avoid the possibility of arrest by the new government.
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