Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country early July 13 to seek refuge in the Maldives after violent protesters stormed his residency July 9.
The 73-year-old, his wife and two bodyguards boarded a military plane early Wednesday morning, after multiple failed attempts to leave the country Tuesday, BBC reported. The president allegedly went abroad to avoid prosecution after stepping down.
Immigration officers allegedly refused to grant the president VIP access to stamp his passport and he was too afraid of public outrage to use the regular facilities. After staying the night at a military base next to the airport and missing four flights to the United Arab Emirates, the president and his group left this morning, France24 reported.
After weeks of violent protests in response to the economic crisis, protesters stormed the president’s home Saturday, forcing him and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to declare they would resign July 13. (RELATED: From Protests To Assassinations, International Chaos Reaches Fever Pitch)
Wickremesinghe took on the office as acting president after the president’s departure. He has declared a state of emergency and regional curfew to combat continuing protests, according to BBC.
The president’s resignation ends the family’s dynasty of the last two decades. Rajapaksa’s brother Mahinda defeated separatists in 2009, earning the family the public’s support. The country has been under the family’s reign ever since, BBC reported.
Rajapaksa’s other brother, former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, has attempted to flee the country as well. He hopes to travel to the U.S. as he holds dual citizenship, France24 revealed.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s final destination is Dubai, according to France 24. While he lived in the U.S. and held citizenship too, he gave up his American passport to run for the presidency, The Guardian reported. This leaves him currently ineligible for a visitor visa. The president’s plane also was declined the opportunity to land at an Indian airport, The Guardian reported.
As soon as Wickremesinghe resigns, the speaker of the parliament, Mahinda Yapa, will take over the position as acting president until new presidential elections July 20, according to NBC.
Sri Lanka has been plagued by an economic crisis that left residents with power cuts, food, fuel and medicine shortages.