Image Source: Outlook India
Amidst widespread demonstrations against the island country’s economic difficulties, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa left Sri Lanka on a military jet.
According to the country’s air force, the 73-year-old traveled to the Maldives with his wife and two security personnel.
The president has stated that he will step down by Wednesday, but no formal resignation letter has been received.
He has appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to serve in the president’s absence.
Protesters invaded Mr. Wickremesinghe’s office and demanded that he quit as well, so he issued a state of emergency and instructed the military to restore calm.
A family dynasty that has ruled Sri Lanka’s politics for the past twenty years comes to an end with Mr. Rajapaksa’s resignation.
The president had fled as mobs surrounded his home on Saturday and had promised to step down on Wednesday.
His landing in the Maldives, a group of islands southwest of Sri Lanka, also sparked protests there. Some called on the Maldivian government to quit acting as a safe haven for the fugitive president.
According to someone who spoke to the BBC, Mr. Rajapaksa has plans to leave the Maldives and continue on to another country.
Former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, his brother, has also departed Sri Lanka and is reportedly traveling to the US.
Thousands of people flooded the streets of Colombo, the country’s capital, as soon as Sri Lankans learned of Mr. Rajapaksa’s departure. Many people gathered at the city’s primary protest location, Galle Face Green. Some individuals listened to ferocious speeches at a temporary podium made up for regular people to speak on.
Speakers screamed against a government, and the leaders they believe have let them down, punctuated by screams of “Victory to the struggle,” the protest movement’s catchphrase.
When demonstrators gathered close to the prime minister’s office, police used tear gas to disperse them, but they still managed to storm the office and other government structures.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe stated in a previous televised speech that he had given the military orders to take “whatever action is necessary to restore order.”
However, many protesters assert that they will keep their demonstrations until both leaders leave office.
Because they perceived a lack of responsibility, some protesters were incensed by Mr. Rajapaksa’s departure.
The worst economic crisis to hit Sri Lanka in decades is being attributed on President Rajapaksa’s administration.
Daily power outages and shortages of necessities like fuel, food, and medications have been a problem for them for months.
The leader, who is protected from legal action while he is president, is rumored to have sought to leave the country before leaving to avoid the danger of being detained by the next administration.
The president’s departure raises concerns about a possible power vacuum in Sri Lanka, which needs a functioning administration to begin its climb out of financial devastation.
Politicians from other parties have been discussing the formation of a new unity government, but there is currently no indication that an agreement is close. It’s also unclear whether what they come up with would be well received by the general audience.
In accordance with the constitution, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe should take the presidency in the event that the current one steps down. Accordingly, the president’s deputy in parliament is the prime minister.
But Mr. Wickremesinghe is also incredibly disliked. On Saturday, protesters torched his residence—he and his family were not inside—and he announced his resignation to make way for a unity government, but he specified no specific timetable.