Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has fled Sri Lanka on a military jet to the Maldives, amid mass protests over its economic crisis.
The Sri Lanka’s air force confirmed the 73-year-old flew to the Maldives with his wife and two security officials. They arrived in the capital, Male, at around 03:00 local time and were aided by Speaker and former President Mohamed Nasheed.
However, Mr. Rajapaksa will not remain in the Maldives and intends to travel on to a third country. His brother, former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, has also left Sri Lanka and is said to be heading to the US.
Sri Lankans blame President Rajapaksa’s administration for their worst economic crisis in decades. For months they have been struggling with daily power cuts and shortages of basics like fuel, food and medicines. The leader, who enjoys immunity from prosecution while he is president, is believed to have wanted to flee abroad before stepping down to avoid the possibility of arrest by the new administration.