Colombo: A student has died in the protests in Sri Lanka, where curfew has been extended till 5 am. The Lankan leaders opted for a takeover by the Speaker as President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been asked to resign.
Fearing backlash from civilians, Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has requested the Maldives government to arrange a private jet to fly him to Singapore, government sources in Maldives have said. Mr Rajapaksa had fled to Maldives late last evening, without handing his resignation.
Earlier today, the Lankan political leaders held an all-party meeting, where it was decided to let the parliament Speaker take over as the acting President. The office of Ranil Wickremesinghe, who has been asked to step down, said the ruling party and the opposition must form an all-party government.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has also informed Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to nominate a Prime Minister who is acceptable to both the government and the Opposition.
Sri Lanka declared a state of emergency this morning as massive protests engulfed Colombo after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa flew to the Maldives. An indefinite curfew has been imposed across the Western Province, including Colombo, to contain the escalating protests.
Tear gas shells were fired as thousands of people mobbed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s office, took over his residence and pushed against the gates of the Lankan parliament.
Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will send his resignation later in the day as promised. He also said that Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has been appointed as the acting President of the country.
Sri Lanka’s state-run TV network, Rupavahini Corporation, briefly suspended its telecast after protesters entered the TV station. The channel resumed the broadcast later.
Defence officials of the island nation have told NDTV that Mr Rajapaksa requested a plane last night and insisted they were “obligated” to provide him with one. As President, Mr Rajapaksa continues to be the supreme commander of the defence forces.
On their arrival in the Maldives, President Rajapaksa, his wife and bodyguards were driven to an undisclosed location under police escort, an airport official in Male said. Reports claim the President’s younger brother and former finance minister Basil Rajapaksa has also left the country.
The Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka today dismissed reports claiming that India had helped President Rajapaksa and his brother Basil flee.