Lankan Prez Gotabaya Rajapaksa leaves island days after fleeing palace: Report

Jul 11, 2022 06:39 PM IST

Sri Lanka crisis: Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena was earlier quoted as saying by a news portal that Gotabaya Rajapaksa will return to the crisis-hit nation by Wednesday.

Sri Lanka's speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena on Monday said he made a mistake during his interview with BBC while speaking about President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's current location and said the embattled leader was still in the country.

File photo of Sri Lanka's embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.(REUTERS)
File photo of Sri Lanka's embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.(REUTERS)

He was earlier quoted as saying by local news portal NewsWire that Rajapaksa was residing in a neighbouring nation and would return to the island nation on Wednesday.

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According to the portal, the speaker said this to a BBC reporter an audio of which was shared by it.

An AFP report, citing officials, said the 73-year-old president was flown to an airbase near the main international airport during the day raising speculation he will flee into exile abroad.

Rajapaksa had fled the presidential palace in Colombo under naval protection on Saturday, shortly before tens of thousands of protesters overran the compound.

Also read | New Sri Lanka president to be elected on July 20 to replace Rajapaksa: Minister

Hours later, Abeywardena had announced in a televised message that Rajapaksa would resign on Wednesday to allow a "peaceful transition of power".

The 73-year-old leader had then taken refuge at a navy facility, before being brought to the Katunayake airbase -- which shares a perimeter fence with the country's main Bandaranaike International airport.

On Sunday, Rajapaksa had issued an order from his hidden location asking officials to ensure smooth distribution of cooking gas after the fuel-starved country received 3,700 metric tonnes of LP gas.

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