Basil Rajapaksa tries to flee Sri Lanka, boarding arrested
Sri Lanka’s former finance minister, Basil Rajapaksa, who is the younger brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, was prevented from boarding a flight to Dubai on Monday night, local media reported.
Basil reportedly tried to leave Sri Lanka amid the country’s ongoing economic crisis, but airport immigration officials refused to let him leave the country following protests from passengers, the Daily Mirror reported. .
When immigration officials refused, Basil had to return without being able to continue, the report added.
The development comes a day after Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena clarified that Gotabaya Rajapaksa is still in the country, shortly after reports emerged that the president had left the island nation.
Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa, who announced his resignation on Saturday, is believed to have previously fled and was in a third country.
“Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is still in the country, I made a mistake in the (BBC) interview,” President Abeywardena told ANI in a phone call.
Asked about the whereabouts of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Sri Lankan President, the speaker said both were still in the country.
The development comes after thousands of people stormed into the president’s home in Fort on Saturday. The dramatic visuals came from PM’s official residence where they were seen playing carrom board, sleeping on the couch, enjoying the park premises and preparing food for dinner.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe also announced he would step down from office amid ongoing protests. However, protesters who occupied the president’s and prime minister’s residences said they would continue to occupy their homes until they resign from office.
The worsening economic situation in the country has led to growing tensions and in recent weeks several clashes between individuals and members of the police and armed forces have been reported at gas stations where thousands of citizens desperate lined up. for hours and sometimes days.
Sri Lanka is going through its worst economic crisis since its independence in 1948, which follows successive waves of COVID-19, threatening to undo years of development progress.
The oil shortage forced schools and government offices to close until further notice. The reduction in national agricultural production, the lack of foreign exchange reserves and the depreciation of the local currency have fueled the shortages.
The economic crisis will plunge families into hunger and poverty – some for the first time – adding to the half a million people who, according to World Bank estimates, have fallen below the poverty line due to the pandemic.
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