Sri Lankan president lands in Singapore after fleeing country
Singapore, Jul 14 (EFE).- Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa landed on Thursday in Singapore, a day after fleeing his country, plunged into a serious political and economic crisis with massive anti-government demonstrations.
Rajapaksa, who on Wednesday flew on an Armed Forces aircraft to the Maldives, arrived in the city-state on a Saudi flight at 7.17pm local time (11.17 GMT), and the Singapore Foreign Ministry indicated that it was a private visit, according to local media reports.
The ministry added that Rajapaksa had neither sought asylum nor was he guaranteed the same by the Singapore government.
Rajapaksa had earlier this week reiterated his decision to step down on Wednesday but did not officially do so, supposedly to avoid being arrested as it would lead him to lose his presidential immunity.
However, he appointed interim Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the acting president before he left.
It’s unclear how long he will stay in Singapore or if he will head to a new destination afterward, with reports pointing to Saudi Arabia as a possible itinerary.
The leader had arrived in Maldives on a Sri Lanka Air Force plane on Wednesday along with his wife and two security guards, using his powers as the president of the island-nation.
Soon after Rajapaksa fled Sri Lanka, the speaker of the parliament announced that he had appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the interim president and was set to resign soon, but the resignation did not occur.
Maldivian media outlets had reported that the Sri Lankan leader had planned to set off for Singapore on Wednesday evening itself, but the spotlight and surveillance at the capital’s airport delayed his plans.
Dozens of Sri Lankans had also protested in the Maldivian capital on Wednesday, asking for Rajapaksa’s resignation, although the protest was soon dispersed by security forces.
After the news of Rajapaksa’s departure spread, thousands of protesters returned to the streets in Sri Lanka demanding immediate resignations from the president and the prime ministers.
Although the interim president imposed a curfew in Colombo to try and control the situation, protesters again occupied several government facilities in a repeat of the weekend’s demonstrations, including the prime minister’s office.
On Tuesday, Sri Lanka’s airport authorities had prevented the president’s brother Basil Rajapaksa, the former finance minister, from boarding a plane to Dubai from a private section of the airport. EFE