India refutes reports of facilitating President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s exit from Sri Lanka
The Sri Lankan president fled to the Maldives, hours before he was due to step down from his post.
India on Wednesday dismissed media reports that it had facilitated Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s exit from his country.
The Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka said such reports were baseless and speculative.
“It is reiterated that India will continue to support the people of Sri Lanka as they seek to realise their aspirations for prosperity and progress through democratic means and values, established democratic institutions and constitutional framework,” the High Commission said in a tweet.
Earlier today, Rajapaksa fled Sri Lanka to the Maldives, hours before he was due to step down from his post amid widespread protests over his handling of the island nation’s worst economic crisis since independence in 1948.
The 73-year-old leader, his wife and two bodyguards left after receiving approval from the defense ministry, a statement from the Sri Lankan Air Force media director said.
They flew on a Sri Lankan Air Force plane and landed in Male, the capital of the Maldives. However, there was no official confirmation of his arrival from the authorities in the Maldives.
Last week, Rajapaksa had said he will resign on Wednesday to make way for a “peaceful transition of power” in Sri Lanka after protestors stormed his official residence demanding that he should step down. Rajapaksa, accused of war crimes and the disappearances of government critics, was elected president in 2019.
Before Rajapaksa, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he would leave once a new government was in place.
Since Saturday, protestors have flocked to the presidential palace. In extraordinary scenes, some of them were seen jumping into the swimming pool, while others made their way into the kitchen. Many were also seen lifting weights and running on a treadmill.
On Wednesday, a state of emergency was imposed across the island nation after reports emerged of Rajapaksa’s exit.
Thousands of protesters were seen flocking the streets of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, demanding Rajapaksa’s immediate resignation, according to NDTV.
An indefinite curfew was imposed across Sri Lanka’s western province, including Colombo, to contain the growing protests.