Sri Lanka’s Public Broadcaster SLRC Goes Off Air Briefly as Protesters Take Over
Huge protests broke out in Colombo, with thousands of demonstrators heading towards the Sri Lankan PM's office.
The Quint DAILY
For impactful stories you just can’t miss
Sri Lanka's national broadcaster Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC), known as Jathika Rupavahini, suspended its live telecast and temporarily went off air on Wednesday, 13 July.
This came as protests broke out in Colombo following President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fleeing to the Maldives. Protesters stormed Jathika Rupavahini and relayed messages during a live broadcast, causing the national channel to go off air. However, the broadcast was resumed subsequently.
"Until the struggle is over, the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Cooperation will only telecast programs of the Jana Aragalaya," a protester said during a live broadcast, NewsWire reported.
The channel subsequently recommenced its regular transmission.
Nationwide Emergency, Gotabaya Flees to Maldives
Meanwhile, an indefinite nationwide state of emergency was declared by the official on Wednesday; soon President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country and reportedly took shelter in Maldives.
Huge protests broke out in the capital city of Colombo again, with thousands of demonstrators heading towards the Sri Lankan prime minister's office.
Extraordinary visuals showed the police personnel in riot gear firing tear gas to scatter a sea of protesters near Wickremesinghe's office.
A brief statement from the Sri Lanka Air Force said:
"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."
The beleaguered president was welcomed by a Maldivian government representative at the Velana airport.
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.
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 NewsWire and Bloomberg.)
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.