Sri Lanka’s embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled to the Maldives on Wednesday, may now be headed to Singapore with his family, according to local media reports from the country.
Rajapaksa, 73, left the country along with his wife and two security officers on a military jet, a brief statement from the Sri Lanka Air Force said. “On government request and in terms of powers available to a President under the Constitution, with complete approval from the ministry of defence, the President, his wife and two security officials were provided a Sri Lanka Air Force plane to depart from the Katunayake international airport for the Maldives in the early hours of July 13," the statement said.
His exit came hours before he was supposed to step down in the face of a public revolt against him and his family for mishandling the economy that has bankrupted the country.
Sources said that Rajapaksa has been speaking to Singapore authorities and they, too, have given the go-ahead.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Office also confirmed that the President had left Sri Lanka. Rajapaksa, who enjoys immunity from prosecution while he is the president, fled the country before resigning to avoid the possibility of arrest by the new government.
On Saturday, Rajapaksa had announced his decision to step down on Wednesday after thousands of protesters stormed his official residence, blaming him for the unprecedented economic crisis that has brought the country to its knees.