Sri Lanka's president in turmoil Gotabaya Rajapaksa left his country for the Maldives early on Wednesday, when the president promised to submit his resignation following months of protests that were widespread against Sri Lanka's worst economic downturn.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa had promised at the weekend that he would step down on Wednesday to pave the way for the "peaceful transition of power" after fleeing his residence in Colombo just as tens of thousands of protesters encroached on it.
In his capacity as president, Rajapaksa has immunity from arrest. it is believed that he planned to travel abroad prior to leaving to prevent being arrested.
His wife, he, and a bodyguard were among the four passengers aboard an Antonov-32 military plane that left the main international airport in Sri Lanka immigration officials said to AFP.
When they arrived in Male in the Maldives they were taken to an unidentified location with police escorts the airport official Male told the Male airport official.
A departure from the 73-year-old leader previously dubbed "The Terminator was blocked for over 24 hours in a shambolic standoff with immigration officials in Colombo.
He wanted to travel to Dubai on an airline that was commercial, however, the staff of Bandaranaike International withdrew from VIP services and demanded that all passengers pass through counters that were public.
The president's party was hesitant to use the regular channels due to the fear of public reaction an official from the security department said which is why the party that missing the four planes on Monday which could be taking their passengers into the United Arab Emirates.
A military flight's clearance to land in the nearest neighbor India was not immediately confirmed according to a security official that at one point on Tuesday, the group traveled towards a naval base with an intention of fleeing through the sea.
Rajapaksa's younger brother Basil who quit in April to become Finance Minister missed his personal Emirates plane to Dubai early on Tuesday following an argument between him and the airport personnel.
Basil - who has US citizenship, in addition to Sri Lankan nationality - tried to make use of a concierge service for business travelers but the officials at the airport and immigration said they had pulled him out of their fast-track services.
"There were some other passengers who protested against Basil boarding their flight," an airport official said to AFP. "It was a tense situation, so he hurriedly left the airport."
Basil was required to get an entirely brand new US passport after he had left his belongings on the grounds of the Presidential Palace when the Rajapaksas made a hasty move to defend themselves from mobs Saturday according to a diplomatic source.
Sources from the government said that an entire suitcase of documents was also left at the mansion that was a stately residence together with 17.85 million dollars (about $50,000) in cash. It is under the control of the Colombo court.
The president's office did not provide any formal confirmation from the White House office on his whereabouts, however, he was the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces with military capabilities available to him.
Rajapaksa was accused of sabotaging the economy to the degree that the country is running out of foreign currency to fund even the most vital imports. Causing severe problems for 22 million people.
If he does not resign as he promised the prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will be automatically the acting president. Until Parliament chooses an MP who will serve the presidency term that will expire in November 2024.
However, Wickremesinghe has stated that he will retire if a consensus can be reached over the formation of a unity government.
The succession process could last three to five days. The minimum amount of time needed for the parliament to be seated as well as the maximum of 30 days permitted under the law. If Rajapaksa is able to quit this Wednesday afternoon The decision will be held on the 20th day of July the speaker of parliament has announced.
The chief of the principal opposition is the Samagi Jana Balawegaya party. Sajith Premadasa who lost the presidential election in 2019 to Rajapaksa, has announced he'll run for the post.
Premadasa is the child of former President Ranasinghe Premadasa. Who was killed in a Tamil rebel suicide bombing in May 1993?
Sri Lanka defaulted on its $51 billion foreign debt in April. It is currently engaged with the IMF to discuss a possible bailout.
The island is nearing the end of its supply of gasoline. Government officials have ordered the shutting down of all non-essential schools and offices to cut down on commutes and to save on fuel.