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Sri Lanka Speaker Says Gotabaya Rajapaksa Left Nation, Then Retracts Statement

Meanwhile, AFP reported on Monday that Rajapaksa has been flown to an airbase near the main international airport.

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Edited By :Ahamad Fuwad

Sri Lanka Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena on Monday, 11 July, clarified that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has not left the country, as reports claimed that the embattled president has fled the nation.

Abeywardena's statement came hours after he was quoted by BBC as telling them that the President Rajapaksa was not in Sri Lanka but in a nearby country and would return on Wednesday in order to resign from his position.

Speaking to news agency ANI later, he said, "President of Sri Lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa is still in the country, I made a mistake in the (BBC) interview."

Meanwhile, AFP reported on Monday that Rajapaksa has been flown to an airbase near the main international airport, giving rise to speculation he will be fleeing the country.

However, no official word from the president's office has been released about his whereabouts.

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Protesters Lay Siege to President's House

On Saturday, 9 July, thousands of protesters breached police barricades and stormed into the residence of the Sri Lanka president in Colombo.

Rajapaksa had fled from his residence a day before the protest, and reports said then that he had fled the country as well. Reports by Sri Lanka's News 1st channel revealed that luggage was rushed on to the Sri Lanka Navy Ship Gajabahu anchored at the Colombo Port.

At least 30 people, including two police officials, were injured amid clashes between security forces and protesters in one of the biggest anti-government rallies the country has seen in recent months. The police also fired tear gas shells to disperse them.

Thousands carried Sri Lankan flags as they demanded the ouster of the president. While only a few rode in cars, due to the acute fuel shortage in the country, others rode bicycles, and many walked to the protest site.

Protesters also clashed with railway officials in Galle, Kandy, and Matara, while demanding trains to operate so that they can reach the capital and join the protest, which was given the name 'Whole Country to Colombo'.

(With inputs from BBC, AFP and ANI.)

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Edited By :Ahamad Fuwad
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