Sri Lanka Declares Emergency After Prez Rajapaksa Flees; Big Protests in Colombo

Gotabaya Rajapaksa's departure from the crisis-ridden nation comes on the day that the leader is supposed to resign.

3 min read
Edited By :Padmashree Pande

Video Producer/Editor: Shohini Bose

A state of emergency was declared in Sri Lanka on Wednesday, 13 July, soon after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country and reportedly took shelter in Male, Maldives.

The indefinite nationwide emergency was imposed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who's functioning as the acting president currently.

Soon after the news of President Rajapaksa fleeing had emerged, huge protests broke out in the capital city of Colombo again, with demonstrators storming the prime minister's residence. Visuals showed gun shots being fired into the air amid the chaos.

Military personnel used tear gas shells against protesters who scaled the wall to enter Sri Lankan PM's residence in Colombo. Visuals showed the police firing tear gas to scatter protesters near Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's office.

Air patrolling was carried out in the area as well.

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    (Photo: PTI)

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    Police use tear gas as protesters storm the compound of prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe 's office, demanding he resign after president Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country amid economic crisis in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, July 13, 2022. The speaker of the Parliament said Rajapaksa appointed his prime minister as acting president in his absence. AP/PTI(AP07_13_2022_000095B)

    (Photo: PTI)

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    (Photo: PTI)


President Rajapaksa fled the country along with his wife and two bodyguards on Wednesday morning, days after a sea of anti-government protesters stormed his residence.

Rajapaksa, who enjoys immunity from prosecution while he is president, fled to Maldives before resigning to avoid the possibility of arrest by the new government.

Sri Lanka Prez Flees on Military Jet Ahead of Resignation

"On government request and in terms of powers available to a President under the Constitution, with complete approval from the ministry of defence, the President, his wife and two security officials were provided a Sri Lanka Air Force plane to depart from the Katunayake international airport for the Maldives in the early hours of July 13," a brief statement from the Sri Lanka Air Force said.

The beleaguered president was welcomed by a Maldivian government representative at the Velana airport.

Rajapaksa's departure from Sri Lanka, which is in the midst of a major economic and political upheaval, also comes on the day that the leader is supposed to resign.

Later on Wednesday, speaker of the Sri Lankan Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena confirmed that President Rajapaksa informed him over the telephone that he will resign today as promised, and that PM Ranil Wickremesinghe should be interim president.

The speaker added, "I appeal to the public to have confidence in the parliamentary process we have outlined to appoint a new president on the 20th (July) and be peaceful," Reuters reported.


Meanwhile, the Indian High Commission on Wednesday categorically denied "baseless and speculative media reports" that India facilitated the recently reported travel of Rajapaksa out of Sri Lanka.



On Tuesday, the Sri Lankan president's travel plans to Dubai had been impeded after he was caught in a humiliating stand-off with airport immigration staff.

The airport officials withdrew his VIP services, and requested him to go through public counters, reports said.

Rajapaksa had fled from his residence a day before the massive protest on Saturday. Several protesters could also be seen taking a dip in a swimming pool at Rajapaksa's residence.

On Monday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's office said in a statement that Rajapaksa had informed that he would step down on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe had also said that he would step down from his position. His house was set on fire during Saturday's unrest.

If the president tenders his resignation on Wednesday, a presidential re-election will be held on 20 July, Assembly Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene had said earlier.

Following Rajapaksa's formal exit from office, the Sri Lankan Parliament will convene on 15 July to announce the vacancy and will reconvene on 19 July to accept nominations for the top post.

The country of 22 million people is under the grips of an unprecedented economic turmoil, the worst in seven decades, leaving millions struggling to buy food, medicine, fuel, and other essentials. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe had said last week that Sri Lanka was now a bankrupt country.

(With inputs from PTI, ANI, and AFP.)

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