Sri Lanka’s President Flees, Leaving Country In Chaos
Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the official presidential residence before it was taken over by tens of thousands of angry Sri Lankans who had stormed Colombo on July 9th to chase him from office. Then he spent days in hiding to avoid their wrath.
Finally, in the early hours of July 13th the president reportedly fled the country on a military jet.
Gota’s dead-of-night departure follows the end of his family’s two-decade dominance of politics on the island of 22m people. Most Sri Lankans considered it long past time. But it also leaves the country with a political vacuum.
The situation is complicated by the president’s unwillingness to resign, Gota used his executive powers to commandeer the plane that took him to the Maldives, and did not resign, or make arrangements for his resignation, before fleeing, presumably to avoid losing his immunity from prosecution. (He has been accused of corruption in presiding over Sri Lanka’s economic collapse and of crimes committed during the country’s 26-year civil war, both of which he denies.
He has not spoken in public since leaving his residence on July 8th. A promise that he would resign by July 13th was relayed through the speaker of Parliament, a political ally