Sri Lanka's embattled President flees the country
Sri Lankan beleaguered President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country on a military jet early Wednesday, according to several reports citing unnamed local officials.
Rajapaksa, his wife and a bodyguard allegedly headed to the Maldives, the reports added.
Amid mass protests in the wake of a worsening economic crisis, Sri Lanka's Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said Saturday that the president would resign on July 13.
The development came after thousands of protesters stormed the presidential palace in Colombo on Saturday and also set fire to the prime minister’s home.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has also agreed to resign after the formation of an all-party government. President Rajapaksa was evacuated from the presidential palace and his current whereabouts are unknown.
Gotabaya had been a popular figure among Sri Lanka's powerful Sinhala Buddhist majority, who credit him with ending the country’s 26-year-long civil war in 2009.
However, as the tourism industry, the island-nation’s economic mainstay, declined due to the global COVID pandemic, and his popularity waned as well.
Rising fuel prices since the beginning of the year exacerbated protests across the country.