Gotabaya awaits private jet to depart for Singapore

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has not departed for Singapore on the scheduled Singapore Airlines flight from Male to Singapore…reports Asian Lite News

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who fled to Maldives on Wednesday followed by an uprising triggered due to the economic collapse of the island nation, is now waiting to travel further to Singapore.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is now an acting president, has declared a state of emergency in the country and a curfew in the Western province had been imposed.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has not departed for Singapore on the scheduled Singapore Airlines flight from Male to Singapore, the Daily Mirror reported.

Rajapaksa along with his wife Ioma Rajapaksa and two security officers were expected to leave for Singapore on board SQ437 from Male to Singapore tonight but did not board the aircraft due to security issues, Daily Mirror added citing sources.

Moreover, securing a private aircraft for the embattled President is currently in talks, Maldivian Media reported.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his wife along with two bodyguards from Katunayake International Airport travelled to the Maldives after full approval of the country’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday. An Air Force flight was given early in the morning on 13th July 2022.

Lankans in Maldives protest

Meanwhile, Sri Lankans residing in the Maldives staged a protest on Wednesday against ex-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

They demanded that Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is currently at a resort in the Maldives, be sent back to Sri Lanka, reported Newswire.

Video footage shared by a social media user shows Sri Lankans staging a protest in the Maldives’ capital, Male.

The protesters are seen holding the Sri Lankan national flag and placards with anti-government slogans.

Meanwhile, the Maldives media reports that Rajapaksa is set to leave for either Singapore or Dubai, UAE from the Maldives later Wednesday, reported Newswire.

Amid mayhem and chaos in Sri Lanka, acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe instructed armed forces and police to bring the current situation under control.

Further, some of the protesters have stormed the premises of Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister’s Office in Colombo.

Security personnel resorted to tear-gas shelling to drive away protestors on the streets of Colombo.

Wickremesinghe declared an emergency and imposed a curfew in the western province of the country as protests intensified following Rajapaksa’s escape to the Maldives.

A state of emergency was declared as protesters came prepared to face tear gas shelling by security forces deployed outside Wickremesinghe’s residence. Air patrolling also began around the PM’s residence.

The country’s opposition leader Sajith Premadasa said that the PM cannot exercise the powers of the President, and cannot declare a curfew or a state of emergency.

“PM becomes acting President only if the President appoints him as such, or if the office of President is vacant, or if the CJ in consultation with the Speaker forms the view that the President is unable to act,” Premadasa tweeted.

“In the absence of any of these, the PM cannot exercise the powers of President, and cannot declare curfew or a state of emergency,” he said in another tweet.

73-year-old Rajapaksa had gone into hiding after crowds of protesters stormed his residence on July 9 and he had announced that he will resign on July 13.

Sri Lanka is facing the worst economic crisis since its independence which has led to massive protests demanding the ouster of Rajapaksa as the President. Sri Lanka’s speaker of parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena has said political party leaders have decided to elect a new president on July 20 through a vote in parliament.

The development comes after thousands of people stormed into the President’s House in Fort on Saturday. The dramatic visuals also came from PM’s official residence where they were seen playing carrom board, sleeping on the sofa, enjoying in park premises and preparing food for dinner.

In the wake of record food price inflation, skyrocketing fuel costs and widespread commodity shortages, some 61 per cent of households in Sri Lanka are regularly using coping strategies to cut down on costs, such as reducing the amount they eat and consuming increasingly less nutritious meals. (ANI)

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