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Sri Lanka’s president flees country amid protests over economic crisis

Demonstrators shout slogans and wave Sri Lankan flags during an anti-government protest inside the office building of Sri Lanka's prime minister in Colombo on July 13, 2022. - Thousands of anti-government protesters stormed into Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's office on July 13, hours after he was named as acting president, witnesses said. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP) (Photo by ARUN SANKAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has fled the country on a military jet, amid mass protests over the island’s economic crisis.

The country’s air force confirmed the 73-year-old flew to the Maldives with his wife and two security officials.

In his absence, he has appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as acting president.

Wickremesinghe has declared a state of emergency and regional curfew in the western province.

Rajapaksa’s departure ends a family dynasty that has dominated Sri Lanka’s politics for the past two decades.

The president had been in hiding after crowds stormed his residence on Saturday, and had pledged to resign on Wednesday 13 July. Rajapaksa will not remain in the Maldives and intends to travel on to a third country, the BBC reports.

His brother, former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, has also left Sri Lanka and is said to be heading to the US.

Many protestors say they will continue their demonstrations until both leaders have resigned from government.

Some demonstrators were furious about Mr Rajapaksa’s departure, seeing a lack of accountability.

More to come…

 

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