President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday (13) sought refuge in Male, the Maldives.
President Rajapaksa, his wife and two bodyguards took a Sri Lanka Air Force plane to the Maldives in the early hours of yesterday (13). The SLAF in a statement confirmed that they deployed a flight for the President as per provisions in the Constitution.
The Indian High Commission, meanwhile, denied any involvement in facilitating President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s departure from the country, following his exit to the Maldives in response to mounting pressure demanding his resignation.
The Indian High Commission categorically denied the baseless and speculative media reports that India facilitated the President’s recent reported departure from Sri Lanka. India also reiterated its commitment to assisting the people of Sri Lanka in realising their aspirations for prosperity and progress through democratic means and values, established democratic institutions, and a constitutional framework. Meanwhile, hundreds of Sri Lankan expatriates took to the streets to protest the arrival of the Sri Lankan President, and the Maldivian Police were seen forcefully dispersing Sri Lankan protesters who are demanding that Maldivian authorities return President Rajapaksa to Sri Lanka. There was a protest at Maldives President’s House urging to send the president out of Male.
In addition, the Maldives National Party Parliamentary Group plans to introduce a motion in Parliament to clarify how the Maldives Government acted in giving President Rajapaksa refuge. According to Maldivian authorities, he only used the Maldives as a “transit” destination. The President’s escape was negotiated by former Maldivian President and Maldivian Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed, who intervened with President Solih to allow them to land in Male. Nasheed went to the airport to greet Rajapaksa. Initially, the military plane couldn’t land in Male without diplomatic permission. Nasheed also condemned the burning of the Prime Minister’s family home two days ago.
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan