Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa flew out of the country early Wednesday in a military plane heading to the neighbouring Maldives, news agency AFP reported, quoting local officials. News agencies confirmed that he landed in the Maldives.
The 73-year-old leader, his wife and a bodyguard were among four passengers on board an Antonov-32 aircraft which took off from the main international airport, said the immigration officials.
“Their passports were stamped and they boarded the special air force flight,” an immigration official involved in the process told AFP.
Sri Lanka has suffered through months of food and fuel shortages, lengthy blackouts and galloping inflation as the nation ran out of foreign currency to import vital goods.
In a dramatic turn of events on July 9, hundreds of thousands of people in Colombo stormed the presidential palace, demanding Rajapaksa take responsibility for shortages of medicines, food and fuel.
Protesters forced Rajapaksa to agree to resign. After that, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe also said he would step down to allow an all-party interim government to take over.
Sri Lankan parliamentary speaker said on Monday (July 11) that the country’s parliament will reconvene on July 15 and a new president will be elected on July 20. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is planning to resign on Wednesday as the South Asian nation continues to face its worse economic crisis.
In a statement, speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said that the nominations for the next president will be presented to parliament on 19 July. On 20 July parliament will vote to elect a new president.
Abeywardena said, “During the party leaders’ meeting held today, it was agreed that this was essential to ensure a new all-party government is in place in accordance with the Constitution and to take forward essential services.”