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Sri Lanka president fled to the Maldives on a military jet after being forced out of office over economic crisis

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in February.

AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, file

  • Sri Lanka’s economic crisis and related food and fuel shortages has led to mass protests.
  • President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said he would resign earlier this week.
  • He and his wife fled the country on a military jet to the Maldives on Wednesday.

The president of Sri Lanka fled to the Maldives on a military jet amid mass protests across over his country’s economic crisis that has led to shortages of food and fuel.

Sri Lanka’s air force said in a Wednesday statement that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa flew with his wife and two security personnel, the BBC reported. An immigration official told The Wall Street Journal that it was in a military plane.

Over the weekend, Rajapaksa promised that he would resign as thousands of demonstrators stormed the presidential residence. The protesters were photographed occupying the grounds and in the pool.

People lie on bed in Sri Lanka President's official residencePeople crowd inside the official residence of Sri Lanka’s President, in Colombo, on July 10, 2022,

AFP via Getty Images

Rajapaksa tried to leave the country through an airport on Tuesday but immigration officers blocked him, Agence France-Presse reported.

On Wednesday, the speaker of Sri Lanka’s parliament appointed the country’s prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, as acting president, citing part of the constitution that allows such a move when the president cannot properly do their role, Reuters reported.

Protesters on the street with a water cannon behind them.Sri Lankan riot police officers fire tear gas and water cannons during the university students anti-government protest amid the economic crisis on May 19, 2022 in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Buddhika Weerasinghe / Contributor / Getty Images

Protests continued on Wednesday, with hundreds of people surrounding the prime minister’s office and demanding his resignation, Reuters reported.

Wickremesinghe declared Sri Lanka, which has of 22 million people, “bankrupt” on Tuesday. 

Insider’s Bethany Dawson reported that Sri Lankans have had to wait for days to get fuel, and basic items have doubled in price.

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