Sri Lanka crisis: Basil Rajapaksa tries to flee the country; Dubai flight taken off after protest

Highlight

  • Rajapaksa stopped by airport immigration officials, local media reported
  • Earlier, Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa was said to have fled the country.
  • Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since gaining independence in 1948

Sri Lankan Crisis: Former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, the youngest brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, was stopped from boarding a flight to Dubai on Monday evening. According to local media, Basil had reportedly attempted to leave Sri Lanka amid the ongoing economic crisis in the country.

However, he was intercepted by the airport immigration officials, who refused to let him leave the country after the passengers protested.

The report said that upon refusal from immigration officials, Basil had to return without being able to proceed.

The developments come a day after Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abhayawardene clarified that Gotabaya Rajapaksa is still in the country, soon after reports emerged that the president had left the island nation.

Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa, who announced his resignation on Saturday, was earlier said to have fled the country.

“Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is still in the country, I made a mistake in the (BBC) interview,” clarified Speaker Abhaywardene.

When asked about the whereabouts of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Sri Lankan President, the Speaker said that they are both still in the country.

Sri Lanka crisis: Crowd gathered at Rashtrapati Bhavan

On Saturday, thousands of protesters stormed the Rashtrapati Bhavan in Fort. Dramatic scenes from the PM’s official residence showed crowds playing carrom boards, sleeping on couches, enjoying in the park premises and cooking dinner.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe also announced to step down from his posts amid the ongoing protests. However, the protesters occupying the residences of the President and the Prime Minister have made it clear that they will continue to occupy their homes until they resign from their posts.

The deteriorating economic situation in the country has added to the tension in the last few weeks.

There were reports of numerous confrontations between individuals and members of the police force and the armed forces at fuel stations, where thousands of desperate members of the public stand in queues for hours and sometimes days.

Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since gaining independence in 1948, which comes on the heels of successive waves of COVID-19 that threaten to undo years of development progress .

The lack of oil supply has forced the closure of schools and government offices until further notice. Decline in domestic agricultural production, depletion of foreign exchange reserves and local currency depreciation fueled the shortfall.

The economic crisis will push families into hunger and poverty – some for the first time – adding up to half a million people who the World Bank estimates have fallen below the poverty line because of the pandemic.

(with inputs from ANI)

Read also | Sri Lanka crisis: UN calls for dialogue to ensure smooth government transition

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