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President Rajapaksa, Brother Stopped From Leaving Sri Lanka at Airport: Reports

Till yesterday, there was no sign of Gotabaya Rajapaksa's whereabouts.

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Edited By :Padmashree Pande

After historic anti-government demonstrations gripped Columbo amid an economic crisis, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Tuesday, 12 July, was blocked from leaving the country, AFP reported official sources as saying.

Meanwhile, the country's erstwhile finance minister and Gotabaya's brother, Basil Rajapaksa, was also barred from fleeing the crisis-ridden nation after civilians at the airport spotted him, and immigration officers blocked his journey, sources added.

The ex-minister was attempting to leaving through the VIP terminal at Colombo international airport, when people expressed their objections to him fleeing.

Purported images online capture the former minister at the airport lounge.

Further, the president was reportedly caught in a humiliating standoff with airport immigration staff after he attempted to leave for Dubai.

Following the stand-off, the president was considering the use of a navy patrol craft to flee via the sea, AFP reported quoting sources.

Till yesterday, there was no sign of Rajapaksa's whereabouts. The political leader had fled from his residence on Friday, a day before over thousands of “Gota Go” protesters stormed into his residence in Colombo.

Later in the day, reports indicated that Gotabaya Rajapaksa was considering using a navy patrol craft to leave the island nation after the encounter with airport personnel.

'Under Pressure to Stop Officials From Leaving': Immigration Officer

Officials from the Sri Lanka Immigration and Emigration Officers Association spoke to Reuters in light of the news surrounding Basil Rajapaksa, and said that airport officials refused to serve the former minister a the VIP lounge.

"Given the unrest in Sri Lanka, immigration officials are under tremendous pressure to not allow top-level people to leave the country," KAS Kanugala, the chairperson of the association reportedly said.

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Earlier, on Monday, speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena had announced that a presidential re-election would be held on 20 July.

The new leader will succeed Rajapaksa, who is set to hand in his resignation on 13 July.

(With inputs from NDTV and AFP.)

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Edited By :Padmashree Pande
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